New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles benched defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson for the first quarter of Sunday's 27-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins due to a "coach's decision," he told reporters after the game.
Wilkerson and Richardson were late to a team meeting earlier in the week, reports Manish Mehta of the Daily News.
Additionally, Wilkerson missed a walk-through before the Jets played the Ravens on Oct. 23 and a defensive meeting where the team had a cake to celebrate his birthday, reports Dan Hanzus of NFL.com.
Bowles did not allude to what went into the decision after the game, adding neither benching was related to an injury.
"That's just a coach's decision," Bowles said during a conference call Monday. "Any decisions I make outside of injuries and football, we usually handle in-house. I don't usually divulge that kind of information one way or the other."
Neither Wilkerson nor Richardson spoke to a group of Jets reporters after the game, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini, however, Richardson briefly addressed the benching to SNY's Jeane Coakley after the game.
"That was the starting lineup and that's where I was," Richardson said.
The Dolphins scored a touchdown on their first two drives of the game with their second drive overlapping quarters.
Wilkerson was benched for the first quarter of a game last season for missing a team meeting, according to Cimini.
This is not a good look and I don't even know where to start. Maybe I am overly worried about what might just be a minor offense but I can't shake the feeling that things are starting to really spiral for head coach Todd Bowles.
When two of the team's best players are missing enough meetings that they are getting benched in the first quarter of a divisional matchup, I tend to believe Connor Hughes' report that this isn't a one-time thing.
It has been said of Richardson that he follows Wilkerson's example, so the fact that the two were both dinged seems to ring true. While it is probably a good thing that Bowles put his foot down, the notion that Bowles is not in control of this team is only gaining momentum.
When the player whom the Jets just paid an obscene amount of money and one of the youngest and most talented players on the team are regularly missing team meetings, it doesn't say much of their respect for their coach or the rest of the team.
Should the team continue to lose games, these kind of stories might only increase for the rest of the season. Buckle up -- this ride could get very bumpy.