Todd Bowles cautions Jets to be 'smart' with comments, tweets

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Thursday, June 11, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Under the bombastic Rex Ryan, who once guaranteed a Super Bowl, the New York Jets had no problem making bold predictions.

Ryan's successor, the reserved Todd Bowles, wants no part of the trash-talking scene.

"Obviously, we don't want a whole team that gossips and hasn't done anything," Bowles said Thursday at the conclusion of a three-day minicamp.

Problem is, the Jets' locker room is filled with colorful personalities and Bowles is learning quickly that it's difficult to keep their mouths (and Twitter thumbs) in check.

In recent days, cornerback Antonio Cromartie criticized Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in a radio interview and engaged in an insult-laden Twitter exchange with former teammate Kellen Winslow Jr.

Guard Willie Colon made headlines with unflattering comments about quarterback Geno Smith, saying in a radio interview, "We bought the Porsche, we've given him the keys, he can't crash it."

As a result, Bowles has performed damage control, acknowledging he has lectured the team on the pitfalls of social media.

"I don't want them to be robots, but they have to be smart about it," he said, adding: "It's the players' prerogative, but they have to understand, if the coach isn't happy [with them] doing certain things, they're going to have to cut it short."

The Jets are experiencing a culture change, which often occurs when a team has a new coach. For six years, Ryan created back-page headlines with his outlandish statements -- and some of his players followed his lead.

Bowles, a Bill Parcells disciple, is quick with a smile and he likes to keep it light at the appropriate times, but he prefers a buttoned-down approach.

"Rex did things his own way, which was great," Bowles said. "I do things my own way, which is great. I have to make sure I stay true to who I am and make sure guys see that and they can relate to that."

The difference between the two coaches was evident in Thursday's news conference.

Asked about his loaded defense, which includes eight former first-round picks, Bowles tempered expectations, saying, "Name-wise and paper-wise, we have a lot of players that can play, but they have to learn to play together."

Ryan never missed a chance to pounce on that question, always predicting a top-five defense. It became an annual rite of the preseason. For the record, they were a top-eight defense in five of his six seasons.

The Jets have a bunch of strong personalities, including Colon, Cromartie and defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who this week told the New York Daily News that teammate Muhammad Wilkerson deserves a $100 million contract.

In the offseason, they added Brandon Marshall, the talented, but sometimes controversial wide receiver. Marshall has a national forum, as he will continue in his role as a regular on Showtime's "Inside the NFL."

"I would never police them and tell somebody what to say," Bowles said. "But you have to know what kind of situation you're in and when you say those things."

Bowles' philosophy is: If you don't have something good to say about a teammate, don't say anything. Colon apparently got the message. He backtracked on his comments about Smith, saying he "misspoke."

On Thursday, Cromartie drew a crowd of reporters at his locker, everyone wanting him to elaborate on his Twitter war with Winslow, who played with the Jets in 2013. Cromartie said he was limiting his comments to the 2015 Jets.

"I'm just here," he said, smiling, "so I don't get fined."

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