The multiple big-screen monitors, mounted overhead in the New York Jets’ press area that provide us, the media, with visuals, replays and stats, continuously showed the Jets’ rookie head coach, Todd Bowles, managing from the team’s sideline. The cameras captured a kind of “you’re freaking killing me” expression on the coach’s face.The Jets were already down 14-zip to the opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, in the first quarter.
The tightness on Bowle’s face began to ease around five minutes into the second quarter, when 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman, rookie Leonard Williams, the Jets’ first-round draft pick, sacked Atlanta’s quarterback,T.J. Yates, in the center of the end zone, scoring the Jets’ first 2 points in their second preseason game, a home game, last Friday at MetLife Stadium.
Williams dropped him like the past Friday and Monday’s Dow Jones average—straight off the line of scrimmage, on Atlanta’s four-yard line, for a sack and safety.
A facsimile of a slight smile appeared as the quarter proceeded. The Jets had scored 16 points in this one quarter after scoring only three in the previous five. The preseason is just beginning, but it was something—a breakthrough.
Besides the Jets’ slow starts, what concerns the coach?
“The penalties, number one, on both sides of the line and special teams,” said Bowles, who is a native of New Jersey and a former player (safety). “Consistency, getting off to a fast start, making sure we gel and everybody is together. We had a good play here and there. But it takes us a while to get started.”
He is also dealing with the standard injuries that plague all teams during preseason. There’s also a concern at quarterback, which is being downplayed but could be a major problem.
There’s also a four-game suspension facing starting lineman Sheldon Richardson, which kicks in at the start of the season. Bowles, like all coaches, states, “If one guy goes down, somebody else has got to step up. Everyone has to step up.”
The Jets play their third game of the preseason against the co-inhabitants of MetLife Stadium, the New York Giants.