Jets players concerned with locker room strife, but Todd Bowles says 'bad excuse'

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, January 2, 2017

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Coach Todd Bowles said it is a "bad excuse" to use the perceived lack of chemistry as the reason for theNew York Jets' 5-11 season, but players continued to voice concern over locker room discord.

"Losing didn't help, but I think it was kind of a mindset that wasn't -- it just kind of spread, and it wasn't good," wide receiver Quincy Enunwa said Monday as players cleaned out their lockers after a sixth consecutive season out of the playoffs.

On Sunday, cornerback Darrelle Revis said there was a "dark cloud" over the team in the aftermath of a Week 3 locker room argument between wide receiverBrandon Marshall and defensive endSheldon Richardson.

The Marshall-Richardson feud became the focal point of the turmoil, with Richardson publicly sniping at Marshall at least twice in the past 10 days.

Meanwhile, Marshall's outspoken leadership style chafed many players, sources told ESPN. It culminated with a Week 16 halftime tirade that might have alienated the veteran receiver from teammates.

Enunwa, one of the Jets' promising young players, said it was hard to stay focused during the season because of the internal strife.

"When you see the bad things that are going on, you kind of feel like, 'Wow,'" he said. "You almost lose your purpose, I think. You go into the season and you don't want to play for self, you want to play for team. But when team doesn't feel like a team, then you have to start playing for self."

Bowles, who will return for a third season as the Jets' head coach, tried to downplay the friction.

"That happens in locker rooms all the time," he said. "I don't think that was a problem as far as us winning and losing and playing hard. Arguments are going to happen."

At the same time, Bowles acknowledged the team can show "a lot more maturity." He has said he will try to change the chemistry in the offseason, and that may mean parting ways with Richardson and Marshall, both of whom are under contract in 2017.

The Jets tried to deal Richardson before the Nov. 1 trading deadline, and they're likely to resume talks next month. Marshall, 32, is due to make $7.5 million and could be traded or cut because of his salary-cap hit.

Bowles said that Marshall's style isn't for everyone.

"Brandon can be volatile at times, but his message is correct, what he's saying," Bowles said. "He's a very passionate player, and he cares. He works his tail off, and he'd like everybody to do that in the same fashion. Sometimes, whenever you're losing, it gets a little frustrating and it goes over, but his message was fine."

Marshall defended his boisterous personality.

"In retrospect, I could work on my timing, but I'm totally fine with my approach this year," he said. "My only motive is to win ballgames. I'm tired of going home right after the season. I'm tired of watching the playoffs on my couch. It's just a frustrating year. It has been a frustrating career."

In 11 seasons, Marshall has yet to reach the playoffs. He has played more games without a postseason appearance than any other active player.

Enunwa paused eight seconds before responding to a question about Marshall's loud personality.

"For me, with Brandon, I always make sure that I hear the message, rather than the delivery of the message," he said. "It's not easy for everybody. ... I think, like he said, he wishes his delivery was different."

Linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin said the team "didn't have the same spark as last year. We didn't fight like we did last year."

In 2015, the Jets finished 10-6, one game short of the playoffs.

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