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Todd Bowles And His Leadership Is Not To Blame For Geno Smith’s Jaw Or Anything Else Bad On The Jets

Bowles will change culture of New York Jets

Jets head coach Todd Bowles (via

Jets head coach Todd Bowles (via


At this point you have all heard about the locker room incident involving New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith and reserve linebacker IK Enemkpali which resulted in Smith getting his jaw broken and most likely ending his Jets career. Something else you may have heard is about how the Jets have been and still is one of the most dysfunctional teams in New York sports and the lack of leadership goes straight to their new rookie head coach Todd Bowles and not the players in their locker room.

That can’t be farther from the truth.

Bowles is the former defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals who received his first head coaching position this past winter from the Jets. The Jets languished under former head coach and new Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan over the last three seasons and the former absentee general manager John Idzik over the last two seasons. A new regime came in with Bowles and new GM Mike Maccagnan with talk of discipline and a new reign over Florham Park, NJ. Bowles was known as a strict coach who held his players to a higher standard, very different from Ryan who covered up for his players at every turn possible to remain well-liked by the his guys.

When a new coach or manager takes over a team, there will always be an adjustment period between that coach and the players. For a team coming from a disciplinarian type of coach and moving to a “players coach”, the transition is seamless as the team will become more relaxed instantly and the environment is looser. When the New York Giants hired Tom Coughlin after having the laid-back Jim Fassel in 2004, the players were not on board with Coughlin and his “if you show up five minutes before a meeting, you’re late” mentality. After three years of struggling and a mutiny on the horizon, it took a group of veteran players to talk Coughlin into loosening up and that season, the Giants won the Super Bowl. That’s a success story of a disciplinarian tweaking things to win ballgames.

In the case of Bowles and the Jets, the situation is pretty similar. The team under Ryan was relaxed, loose and most of all underachieving. Bringing in a straight business coach is a shock to a team that has players who never put their best foot forward consistently. When someone is expecting 100 percent from you at all points of the game (practice, film study, weight room and game day) and you lollygagged at about 60 percent and got away with it, you as a coach have your work cut out for you.

Bowles came into a situation where Maccagnan spent money refurbishing the Jets and making the team better. Bowles also came with a defensive end (Sheldon Richardson) who was suspended for the first four games of the year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The Richardson situation was made worst when it was announced that he was caught by police going 143 MPH in a car smelling of marijuana with a loaded gun and a 12-year old nephew in the vehicle. That pretty much means Richardson may not be seen by fans much this season. Even though the first suspension and subsequent resisting arrest incident came during the off-season, Bowles and the Jets “culture” was questioned.

The current situation with Geno Smith also has pundits questioning the current “culture” of the Jets. The story goes that Smith was initially set to go to Enemkpali’s charity football camp in Texas over the summer. Due to the death of a close friend Smith did not attend the camp but Enemkpali had already foot the bill for the $600 plane ticket for Smith. According to reports, Smith told the linebacker that he would pay him back for the flight but up until Tuesday, he never paid him back and the situation escalated to Smith getting “sucker punched” and now missing 6-10 weeks and Enemkpali being released.

This was an isolated incident to say the least and something that doesn’t happen much in any locker room except if your name is Jarvis Crittenton or Gilbert Arenas. Instantly the lack of leadership came into play on ESPN and other media outlets some even questioned whether Bowles was equipped to handle not just this situation but the job as head coach of the New York Jets. Yes the Jets has had one of the most dysfunctional locker rooms going back to the Sack Exchange days in the 1980’s with Mark Gastineau and it seems like it hasn’t changed since but let’s remember Rome was not built overnight.

Bowles is in the middle of his first training camp with the Jets and is not only getting to know his players but also is in the middle of establishing his program with this team. A culture can not change in one off-season or in one training camp. It usually takes at least an entire season and then possibly the next off-season for a coach to establish his brand and make sure his team is his team. Bowles, and Maccagnan for that matter, is still shaping the team in their image and how they want their team to look. It’s a work in progress and everyone needs to know this.

With Ryan signing Enemkpali off waivers on Wednesday, it just shows how Ryan uses his heart and not his head in his job and shows why he wasn’t a long-term solution for the Jets. Bowles used his head on Tuesday releasing Enemkpali immediately after he punched Smith. Give the Jets this year to get acclimated to Todd Bowles. The culture will change and it will be drastically different this time next year with players Bowles and Maccagnan want, and not players that they were left with from past regimes. Just have patience everyone, just have patience.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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