Jets’ new era takes flight as Bowles, Maccagnan introduced
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — No bold statements. No wild guarantees.
Just two serious football guys from New Jersey aiming to turn the New York Jets’ fortunes around.
Coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan presented a united front as a new era took flight for the Jets on Wednesday during a packed and mostly low-key news conference that formally introduced the pair.
”Going forward,” Bowles said with a big smile, ”it’s going to be a dream working with this guy.”
Maccagnan was hired last Tuesday to replace the fired John Idzik. Bowles was signed a day later to replace Rex Ryan.
And unlike Ryan’s first brash, headline-making news conference with the Jets in 2009, the more understated Bowles offered no Super Bowl guarantees but rather modest goals focused on restoring a winning approach to a franchise that has missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.
”We’re going to be a tough team,” Bowles promised, ”an intelligent team. We’re going to do things the right way. We’re going to try to build a championship team here, and that’s my only job.”
A few months into his tenure, Ryan declared that he didn’t come to New York to ”kiss (Bill) Belichick’s rings.” Bowles was asked about those same rings, and managed to not provide the New England Patriots with any bulletin board material.
”I’m going to work on getting my own rings,” he said. ”They’re at the top of the division. That’s why they’re in the Super Bowl. That’s something that you’re striving to get to, and that’s what we’re going to work toward.”
The former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator also insisted that he will bring a new attitude to his players, a winning approach that’s sorely needed after a 4-12 season.
”We have to teach them our culture,” Bowles said. ”Not that the other culture was bad, but it didn’t win.”
This is a homecoming of sorts for both Bowles, who grew up in Elizabeth, about 19 miles southeast of the facility and was the Jets’ secondary coach in 2000, and Maccagnan, who’s from Hightstown, about 50 miles south of team headquarters. They both know the history of the franchise, from Broadway Joe making good on his Super Bowl guarantee in 1969 to the Jets’ failure to make the big game since.
Both Bowles and Maccagnan used the word ”dream” when they described their opportunity, and owner Woody Johnson declared that his two big hires were the perfect hires to get things turned around.
”These gentlemen, in my estimation,” Johnson said, ”are the people.”
Maccagnan, Houston’s former director of college scouting, said there’s ”a good foundation in place” on the Jets’ roster, and he typically would like to build through the draft but indicated the team is still formulating its offseason approach.
All three men sat at a table in front of the team’s auditorium – appropriately decked out in green ties – and preached the value of being on the same page. Johnson also made it clear that he likes the idea that Bowles will be focused on all three phases of the team – defense, offense and special teams – something that the defensive-minded Ryan was often criticized for not doing.
Bowles, who spent the last two seasons running Arizona’s defense, won’t be calling the plays on defense; that’ll be up to his still-unnamed coordinator, but he’ll have input. Same for the offense, which will be run by Chan Gailey, who was hired Tuesday after being a ”priority” for Bowles because of his ability to ”get the most out of” his players.
Bowles seemed to loosen up as the news conference went along, cracking a few jokes along the way and showing off some of his personality. When asked to describe himself, Bowles had the room laughing.
”There’s a sarcastic side,” he said, smiling. ”There’s a comedy side. There’s a serious side. I’m sort of the male Sybil, so to speak.”
Maccagnan was mostly soft-spoken and all business when he took questions. He reminisced about when he and Bowles met while they were with the Redskins in the late-1980s, back when Maccagnan was an intern in the front office, and Bowles was a safety. The two didn’t get to know each other well then – but met again last week when Maccagnan picked up Bowles from the airport, and they quickly determined they were a good match as GM and coach.
”It was a very natural fit,” Maccagnan said. ”It just felt right. I’m very excited about going to war with Todd over the next few years.”