Bowled away at the Combine – press conference takeaways

Todd BowlesIt was a refreshing air of change that hung over the New York Jets pre-combine head coach and general manager press conferences in Indianapolis Wednesday. Sure, there was none of the bluster of Rex Ryan (for that, see Buffalo Bills presser) but a certain calmness and measure of control was tangible. Based on reactions on social media, Jets fans were pleased with this new, more measured approach, seeing the changes as a positive basis on which to build what will still surely be a challenging future. For me, common sense was the order of the day and both Bowles and Maccagnan, despite not oozing charisma à la Ryan, made all the right noises. Here are some of my takeaways on the performance of our new HC and GM.

  1. Bowles is a tape guy. He wants to see what these guys can do outside the confines of a couple of days in Indianapolis where nothing happens in football conditions. He talked about ensuring that the ‘intangibles’ were in place, putting stock in the interviews and the tape and I believe him. Purely in the way he comes across to the press he doesn’t appear to be the type to be caught up in any sort of furore or song and dance without doing the due diligence first. Sure, these are all combine clichés, but Bowles sold me on his insistence on a deeper understanding of our draft picks.
  2. Our new head coach doesn’t seem to care too much about Bill Belichick’s rings. Bowles wants to beat everyone, he was clear on that. He isn’t just about beating New England a couple of times a year and that was a refreshing message to hear. We all know that Rex liked the big headline and much of what he made of the Jets/Pats rivalry in the media was just that, but I’m not sure that the franchise is in a state at the moment to narrow the focus, even if it is only in the media. Bowles seems aware of the enormity of the job at hand.
  3. When discussing players, both Macc and Bowles were unwilling to make any sweeping comments which as this point seems sensible. Both acknowledged the need to get to know Geno, but also that they were meeting both Mariota and Winston. This may seem like sitting on the fence, but is an honest interpretation of a situation which will continue to be fluid.
  4. Maccagnan’s assessment of the Mo Wilkerson extension talks could have come across as a little lacklustre, considering for many, including myself, that Big Mo is one of brightest lights in the franchise. However, once again, taking common sense into account, I’m not sure there is cause for concern. Both Macc and Bowles have been in the job for just over a month, they are getting their heads round it and it’s clear neither are going to jump into making huge assertions; they just aren’t that type. But they do know football, there is still plenty of time to sort a Wilkerson deal and there are many more things to think about besides. If Macc game out all guns blazing about this, I’d have been concerned that his eye wasn’t on the bigger picture.
  5. Being humble is an easy label to attach, much less to prove and has been something the New York Jets have somewhat struggled with over recent years (Santonio Holmes against Miami 2012 season). It’s a narrow tight rope to walk; too humble and you get pushed over, too arrogant and you lose credibility, especially if it’s unfounded. I was impressed with the humility of both our HC and GM. Maccagnan was happy to admit that in terms of who reports to him, the job was further ranging that he maybe anticipated. Bowles spoke passionately about how his less than successful time at the Eagles with Andy Reid made the biggest impact on his career. Later, Reid, reiterated mutual respect for Bowles in his own Kansas City presser. Neither seem to be push overs, but they are also aware of the challenge they have faced and will continue to. This seems like a good balance.
  6. They are building a team who are pushing forward. Bowles spoke enthusiastically about appointments at offensive and defensive coordinator and the breadth of different experience this brings.  Maccagnan made no bones about the intention to make splashes in free agency and to make the most of the favourable cap situation. Both seem to be clearly on the same page, which should translate to the wider staff and players.

Understandably, the takeways from the Jets are not huge footballing headlines such as came from Washington or even St Louis and I’m sure other people will see differently.  However, as a fan looking forward to what surely must be  more positive 2015 my number one takeaway was ironically the intangibles (as he said!), particularly of Bowles. Balance is the word which springs to mind; both in his offensive strategy (not an unexpected response to that question) but also in his approach and personality. There is a lot to sort out at Florham Park in the next few months, not least the QB situation but watching both Maccagnan and Bowles deal with the press, it seems that hopefully the ship is being sailed by much steadier hands and at this point, that’s what we need.

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