PHOENIX - The Jets weren't just bad last season, they were downright dysfunctional at times. Todd Bowles knows it. Everybody knows it. And the Jets coach expects that to change.
Just don't expect him to drop the hammer on his players, or tighten the rules on what at times appeared to be his loosely-run ship. Bowles, as a former player, understands that stuff happens. And he doesn't plan on taking control with some draconian approach.
Take, for example, the chronic latenesses of the Jets' two star defensive linemen -- Sheldon Richardson and Mo Wilkerson, who both ended up getting benched at the start of the Jets' Week 9 game. Don't expect Bowles to turn back the clocks in the building, a la Tom Coughlin, or to start locking the doors the moment meetings start.
Being late, Bowles said, isn't really a very a big deal.
"You're going to always have tardiness with players," Bowles said at the annual AFC Coaches Breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "That's part of it. Sometimes you're late for work. It's not life-threatening."
Perhaps not, but at the time it seemed to be emblematic of a locker room that was falling apart, not to mention a startling lack of leadership. Bowles dismissed that notion at the time, and he did so again on Tuesday morning.
"Those guys after that were sharp," Bowles said. "They were fine. We didn't have a problem with them after that. Sometimes you're alarm clock's not going to go off."
Of course, that really was the least of the Jets' problems last season. In training camp, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall -- two now-ex-Jets -- nearly got into a fight during practice. A rift developed early in their 5-11 season between some of the players on the offense and the defense after their Week 3 blowout loss in Kansas City. And after the Jets' Christmas Eve loss in New England, Marshall and Richardson got into an argument in the locker room and then aired some of their grievances through the press.
It was a mess, to say the least -- though Bowles believes the issues weren't worrisome, and that they had more to do with the losing than anything else.
"I don't think they were concerning at all," Bowles said. "They were football. I've been on teams where there were locker room concerns and there were flat-out brawls. Last year was nothing. It just went with losing, so people seemed to compile that on top of that and made it worse than it was."
Bowles is so unconcerned that he said he won't even address the issues when he finally gets his team back together.
"I think everybody knows what went on last year," he said. "We discussed that at the end of the year. So going forward we understand what we need in the locker room, what we want in the locker room, and they understand it as well."