Brandon Marshall: Jets not dysfunctional like 2014 Bears

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Thursday, December 8, 2016

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall rushed to the defense of embattled coach Todd Bowles on Wednesday, claiming Bowles has kept the locker room from fracturing and deserves to return next season.

"You guys do remember a couple of years ago, he was probably the most coveted coach out there," Marshall said. "All of a sudden, he lost it?"

Bowles has come under fire because the Jets are 3-9, including a 41-10 embarrassment to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. They've lost four in a row, but the atmosphere remains upbeat, according to Marshall.

Marshall knows toxic environments. He played for the 2014 Chicago Bears, which he called "the worst environment and worst year I've ever had. Ever. Ever.

"You can look at it from the outside and say this is a similar situation, but it's not. That whole organization was divided. That's not the case here. We're together. We're having a bad year. Sometimes years like this build teams to be stronger."

The Bears cleaned house after a 5-11 season in 2014, trading Marshall -- seen as one of the problems -- to the Jets. Marshall and the Jets flourished last season, finishing 10-6 in Bowles' first year and just missing the playoffs, but they've encountered tough times.

Still, the Bears' situation was "100 times worse because their locker room was divided," Marshall said. "There was a lot of division. There was division between players and there was division between players and coaches.

"We don't have that here," he continued. "We've had some tough conversations -- we hold each other accountable -- but we're still together, and that's promising."

In fact, Marshall and defensive end Sheldon Richardson engaged in a heated locker room argument early in the season. There have been rough moments, but Marshall credited Bowles with maintaining unity.

"The reason he's still together is because he's real," said Marshall, 32, whose production has waned. "He's a man's man. The best way I can describe Coach is he's a mix between Bill Parcells and Lovie Smith. Those are guys I've been around -- total opposite ends of the spectrum from the outside, but great guys to play for."

Owner Woody Johnson hasn't made any public comments about Bowles' future, but sources say he has been supportive behind the scenes. He could be waiting to see how the Jets finish the season. They're favored on the road this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers (1-11), who have dropped 11 straight.

After benching QBRyan Fitzpatrick, Bowles will start the unproven Bryce Petty, who is 0-1 as a starter. Marshall, whose own future is cloudy, preached continuity.

"Sometimes you blow up stuff and you think it's the answer and it's not," he said.