The Jets were a mess last season and at times they seemed out of control -- as dysfunctional as they were bad. Through it all, though, Todd Bowles did his best to remain a steady voice and presence, publicly unmoved by the chaos that seemed to be swirling around him.
And now, even though he's likely sitting on the hot seat, he's obviously not going to change.
That was clear on Tuesday when Bowles made his strange, dismissive remarks about the chronic lateness of some of his players last season ("Sometimes you're late for work. Sometimes you're alarm clock's not going to go off."). The words, and his attitude, were not well received by anyone who thought the 53-year-old Bowles would suddenly crack down on his team.
Now some of that was surely Bowles' way of ramping down the criticism of those players - particularly Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson - as he continued to downplay last year's locker-room strife. Bowles is a former player, after all. He almost always publicly stands by his players' sides.
It's a bad look, though. In an era were coaches run teams with military-like discipline, it looks weak compared to teams like the Giants who have spent the last 13 seasons on "Coughlin Time" with their clocks set five minutes early so no one would arrive late. It also sends a bad message when outsiders see a Jets team that disintegrated under Bowles' watch last season, not just on the field.
But that's just about image, and Bowles clearly doesn't care about that. Behind the scenes he surely won't be so cavalier about players breaking rules. Even last year, as he seemed unconcerned publicly, he was a different man behind the scenes. A team source said Wilkerson and Richardson were fined "significant" amounts last season before they were benched for part of a game for their chronic lateness. Several players have said Bowles isn't as tolerant of that as he publicly seemed.
So hopefully his private message will continue to be different than his public one, because the Jets sure look like a team that needs more discipline - not less.
A worthy gamble on a former Cowboys bust
Bowles seemed excited about the Jets' recent addition of former Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne, whom they signed to a one-year, $5 million deal. The former first-round pick (sixth overall, 2012) has been labeled a bust and struggled throughout his career with injuries. But he's still only 27, has a ton of talent, and Bowles thinks his injuries have been the result of "a lot of freak things."
So why not take a shot? If he plays anywhere near where he was thought to be capable of playing, the Jets' secondary will look a lot better next season.
"He's a good player," Bowles said. "Sometimes those things happen to him. You just hope for the best. We took a flier on him. He stays healthy and produces we'll be happy we got the player."
Shuffling along the offensive line
When the Jets signed Kelvin Beachum it was assumed he was replacing Ryan Clady as the Jets' left tackle. But maybe not. When Bowles was asked about where tackle Ben Ijalana would play this season, he said "It depends on the competition between Beachum and (second-year pro Brandon) Shell, whom he said "is a right tackle right now." So it seems they may compete for the job on the right side, which would leave Ijalana on the left - unless Shell wins the right tackle job and Beachum is moved to the left.
There seems to be a lot of moving pieces still on the Jets' line, including at center where Wesley Johnson now has some competition from the newly signed Jonotthan Harrison.
Tight end remains a big hole on the Jets roster
Before free agency started, GM Mike Maccagnan indicated the Jets might be in the market for a tight end because maybe, after the position was mostly an afterthought in the Chan Gailey offense, it would be a significant part of new offensive coordinator John Morton's scheme.
So what happened? Three weeks into free agency, the Jets still have Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has been suspended the first two games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and Braedon Bowman. Together they had 10 catches last season (all by Seferian-Jenkins).
So are the Jets going to add another tight end? "If some are available when the time is right, we will," Bowles said.
That hardly sounds like the tight end is going to be a big piece of Morton's offense. Bowles said it might, but "It all depends."
Injury updates (or non-updates)
Bowles offered no updates on his injured players, including WR Eric Decker (hip/shoulder), QB Bryce Petty (shoulder), or safety Marcus Gilchrist (knee). It sounds like the Jets won't know their status for sure - or at least won't give any updates - until practices start in the spring. Decker (with a salary cap hit of $8.75 million) and Gilchrist ($6.625 million) remain candidates for pay cuts at some point, and they could end up as roster cuts as well.