FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - A source told NJ Advanced Media that Jets' star defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, were tardy or absent from team meetings "all the time." Both players were benched for the first quarter of Sunday's road loss to the Miami Dolphins. The discipline from head coach Todd Bowles proved to be costly, as the Jets gave up a 20 yard touchdown run to Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi in the quarter. Ajayi was able to find success on the left side of the Jets' defensive front.
Wilkerson didn't speak to the media after the loss, while Richardson spoke with reporters briefly.
After the game, Bowles said that the discipline was a "coaches decision" and refused to disclose any information on the "in house" matter. He reiterated those statements in a conference call yesterday and added that the locker room isn't unraveling after a 3-6 start to the season.
"I know what reality is," Bowles said. "We know what everything is inside this building and we’re a close-knit group."
This isn't a good look for a Jets team seeking its first playoff appearance since 2010. Questions of the locker room being in turmoil and whether or not Bowles is losing the team are upsetting to a Jets fan base that is growing impatient with the group.
Richardson and Wilkerson have both had quiet seasons this year on a defense that has underachieved. Richardson has just 1.5 sacks this year while Wilkerson has 2.5. Wilkerson received a huge multi-year contract extension during the off season after having 12 sacks last season. Richardson missed the first game of the season, a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, after being suspended for an incident stemming from last summer.
It was rumored that Richardson was on the trading block prior to the deadline one week ago, but a deal never happened.
From the outside looking in, it seems like players are frustrated with their lack of success this year. Richardson and Brandon Marshall got into it after the loss to Kansas City, and now this. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marshall were also seen arguing on the sidelines against Miami as well. However, Bowles and the players all feel like the season is far from over and that there is still hope.
"We’re 3-6," said Bowles. "We’re down, not out. Right now, I’m not worried about turning the page."
Marcus Reynolds is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@Marcus_JRNL), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).