Our first impressions here are all judging a press conference, what was said and do these people sound like they have a solid plan they believe in and will make sure to execute, but no team has ever won a game based on a press conference. Both the new coach and general manager are getting their first cracks at their respective jobs so, while they may instill confidence or doubt with how they approach their first press conference no one really has any clue if either of these guys are future Hall-of-Famers, complete bums or somewhere in between. Ultimately the only impressions that will matter for Todd Bowles and will be filed under the win/loss columns.
Bowles has an impressive resume and led an extremely impressive defense that overcame a rash of injuries last year in Arizona to be among the best defenses in the league and he’s an impressive person as soon as you get to meet him. You can easily understand why players and coaches around the league rave about his ability as a leader.
“Todd Bowles was a player, he was a safety, he had great years (and) he’s a natural leader. The thing that really impressed me about Todd when I met him was his intelligence and his ability to articulate his game plan, putting people in the right positions and not just going with one set formula,” Johnson said. “And also his ability to be above just a defensive coordinator, not just a defensive coordinator but as a defensive coordinator, and really be above that and be able to take a 30,000 foot look at offense, defense and special teams. All those areas and how they interact to produce a winning team. I think he’s going to relate to the players very well and I think he’s going to relate to the public very well too.”
As the man hired to replace the character that is Rex Ryan, Bowles has himself quite an entertaining sense of humor about himself, but unlike Ryan you get the sense that he only pulls that out when called for. It’s not a card he insists on playing on every hand unlike Ryan who is never not on. Bowles can be a strict disciplinarian when called for, his time as a player helps him to empathize and relate to players when necessary and he has jokes for when the mood strikes.
“I think it’s helped in terms of relating to players,” Bowles said. “Playing the game and then understanding what situations guys are in on and off the field, it helps you relate a little bit more so they can kind of see you as more of a big brother more than as a head coach so you can understand some of the things they’re going through. So, me being in that position I think has helped me a lot that way.”
As a coach Bowles has learned from some of the best this business has ever seen and he knows he is fortunate to have been able to learn a little bit from all the highly intelligent football people he has been around.
“I think I learned a little bit from everybody. It started in college with Bruce Arians, he taught me toughness, he taught me discipline, he taught me perseverance, he taught me to always fight it started with him,” Bowles said. “When I got to the league Emmitt Thomas was my defensive backs coach and Richie Petitbon was my coordinator. Emmitt was outstanding at fundamentals and technique, he taught me to do things the right way and Petitbon from as far as watching film and seeing players he probably was, in my opinion, the best X’s and O’s guys that I’ve been around. So, he taught me a great deal about football.
“Joe Gibbs was so determined about doing things over and over and over again he taught me determination and then when I got to (Bill) Parcells he taught me the overall game. He taught me how to see the overall game not just my position, not just defense but he taught me how to coach offense, he taught me how to coach coaches, he taught me about the personnel side. He really taught me a lot of things going forward when we were here in New York as well as Dallas and Miami so, I learned a great deal from him in that respect.”
Johnson made sure to go out of his way to talk about Bowles leading this team, not just the defense but leading the entire team. When pressed Johnson shied away from taking a direct shot at Ryan but it was clear he thinks Bowles is someone who can find success in areas where Ryan failed.
“This is a people activity, it’s all about people,” Johnson said. “It’s not necessarily that it (attention to offense) was lacking but you can always do better every single day and one of the things we can do better is consolidating everything to make sure we stay as a team. Offense, defense, special teams everybody’s on the same page.”
Bowles clearly understands that faults of his predecessor and he wants to assure fans that he will not make the same mistakes.
“It’s not about just playing great defense for me, being a defensive coordinator, it’s scoring one more point than the other team,” Bowles said. “Going forward we are going to do everything we can, we’re going to use all of our resources to try and build a championship team here. That’s my only job.
“I think the biggest thing for a head coach, in order to lead you have to listen. I’m going to hire some coaches that know how to coach football, coach their position and our defensive coordinator will call but I’ll have a big hand in the defense as far as understanding scheme and terminology and where we go forward. Offensively I’ll have my hand on the print, I’m the head coach of the football team. We have an offensive coordinator that’s going to call the plays and run the show but we have to do what’s best for our team and play complimentary football and I’ll make sure we do that.”
Another clear change Johnson was looking to implement with these hires is to make sure he found a coach and a general manager who were on the same page, like-minded individuals that could work well together and according to Bowles and Maccagnan the two hit it of immediately.
“Going forward I’m truly excited about this opportunity with the Jets and especially to get to work with Todd Bowles,” Maccagnan said. “As I spend more time with him I’m just thoroughly convinced that he has all the qualities necessary to be an excellent head football coach in the NFL and a leader of this team. On my end we will pursue every avenue to acquire players, to help Todd and his coaching staff to get the right type of player that he needs to be successful.”
All of this combined with the fact that he is from Elizabeth New Jersey is what made this the perfect situation for Bowles to accept his first head coaching job and he has all the confidence in himself, Maccagnan and the organization that they will be able to build this team into a winning franchise.
“In the interview process there were a lot of good candidates out there and there were a lot of teams out there but you got to find the right fit,” Bowles said. “I wasn’t just looking for a head coaching job I was looking for a place (that was) a winning organization going forward, the chemistry of the front office, the determination of the owner, Mr. Johnson has shown that and he’s shown he’s willing to do whatever it takes for us to be a winning team.