Monday's Jets-Arizona game won't mark the first time Jets head coach Todd Bowles and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians will be calling plays against each other. They did it in 2013-14, when Bowles was Arians' defensive coordinator on the Cards and their units went at it in practice. And the reason Bowles was with Arians then goes back to 1983, when Arians coached Bowles at Temple.
"When I met him at Temple, he was one of the smartest players I've ever seen," Arians said. "He took that to NFL and had a great career and I always hoped he would get in coaching because I thought he would be a great one. And as he progressed through the ranks, I got to work with him in Cleveland and saw what I knew was going to be a great coach some day and a head coach. He did a great job as interim in Miami. I got the opportunity here and frankly wouldn't have taken the job without him. I always felt like I would be working for him, because I thought he would start long before I ever go to be a head coach."
Bowles' defenses finished sixth in yards allowed in 2013 and ninth in 2014. While he may have learned a lot from Arians in regard to the game, their friendship extends off the field.
"As a friend or an uncle, however you want to call it, he's not old enough for me to call a father figure," Bowles said. "But as an uncle or a bigger brother, from real life to football to just talking every day, making sense out of a lot of things, going through the things he went through, he's taught me a great deal."
As for the biggest lesson he learned from his mentor?
"Well, he taught me at Temple to just keep fighting," Bowles said. "No matter what happens, you have to keep swinging. And the more injured you get, the more you keep swinging."
The two text about once a week, but both acknowledge there will be no communication until gameday. Arians said he plans to give Bowles a "big old hug" pregame, but once the game starts, their friendship will be placed on hold.
"No different. We need to win a ballgame, we're trying to win a ballgame," Bowles said. "It just happens to be against Arizona. I happen to know a lot of people over there, a lot of good friends, but we'll shake hands after the game. During the game, we're going to try to kill them and they're going to try to kill us."