Todd Bowles seems like a very good hire by the New York Jets and for many he validated that thought with his approach to his team’s first visit to Foxborough under his direction last weekend.
Despite first place in the AFC East being on the line against the unbeaten Pats and their future Hall of Fame quarterback and coach, the first-year mentor downplayed things, a sharp U-turn from his predecessor, who would have pitched the big top, put on his carnival barker hat and proclaimed the Jets had already arrived.
“(A win) just means we’re 5-1 and we gotta get ready for Oakland,” Bowles said before the game.
New York didn’t win of course. Few do at Gillette Stadium but the Jets sure gave Tom Brady and Bill Belichick all they could handle before succumbing 30-23.
In the bigger picture, though, it continued a slow climb for the Jets in changing a culture in which they were always talking smack but were often beaten by New England before they ever stepped between the lines.
The Rex Ryan Jets were a lot like the Chuck Pagano Colts or the Mike Tomlin Steelers in that they turned Belichick and his gamesmanship into some sort of Bond villain.
And who knows when Daniel Craig hits the big screen again in Spectre next week maybe Belichick will be there, stroking his cat.
I’m guessing not though, so Bowles’ take on doing business in Foxborough surely trumps the conspiracy theorists, who are worried about things like bugs, deflated footballs and jammed radio frequencies.
Afterwards, news broke that the Jets asked the NFL to sweep their locker room for listening devices before the game; however, it was entirely possible that Bowles’ comments in advance of the contest were nothing more than lip service and he was just another guy about to belly up to the bar and add to the Belichick legend.
Ex-Jet Boomer Esiason of WFAN first reported the news of New York asking for the sweep on his morning, drivetime radio show.
“I don’t think anybody’s acknowledged it,” Esiason said before explaining the crux of the paranoia … you guessed it, the Colts.
“Peyton Manning has always thought that there were listening devices in there,” Esiason continued. “And then when he would go in there and he would talk to his teammates, he’d put his hand over this mouth and he’d whisper into the ear of his teammates because he was afraid that there could actually be a camera in there to read his lips.”
Turns out there was some smoke to Esiason’s story but the fire belonged on Park Avenue not Florham Park.
It wasn’t the Jets who asked for the search, it was the scorned NFL performing it on its own, likely in an attempt to bolster its ongoing appeal in the vacated Deflategate ruling, at least in the court of public opinion.
“No such request was made by the Jets,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy admitted.
Of course the NFL knows this game of ‘gotcha’ is meaningless in regards to Deflategate in the real legal forum. Even if Belichick had Ernie Adams set up in a video-surveillance bunker that would make the U.S. Government blush, it would have nothing to do with Tom Brady and a couple lackeys sticking a pin in a football.
It would, however, further paint the Patriots as cheaters and satiate the 31 one other owners and their fan bases who believe they would have all those Lombardi Trophies if Dr. Evil wasn’t allowed to operate unfettered.
While McCarthy never actually owned up to the Cold War-like sweep, others have confirmed it did indeed occur and the NFL, never big on transparency, kept its plausible deniability in place.
“We have for years conducted regular & random checks,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “We do not get into details of specific games.”
Much like the Patriots don’t get into the specifics of their current middle-finger tour, aimed directly at the NFL commissioner.
Bowles is smart to stay above this fray.
— John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @jfmcmullen — Also catch John this season on ESPN Southwest Florida every Monday at 3 PM ET; on ESPN Lexington every Thursday at 6:05 ET, and live every Tuesday from 2 to 6 PM ET at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City for the NFL Wraparound on ESPN South Jersey.
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