The Jets are a team in transition. After winning five games in 2016, the Green & White made tough business decisions and released CB Darrelle Revis, C Nick Mangold, K Nick Folk, WR Brandon Marshall and RT Breno Giacomini. The organization wants to build through the draft, but head coach Todd Bowles expects to win while doing so.
"We're always trying to win. Whether we kept them or let them go, we're always trying to win," he told reporters Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We don't do anything in that mindset. You rebuild as far as people and names, but you don't rebuild in terms of trying to win or not. We're trying to win all the time."
After winning 10 games Bowles' first season as head coach, the Jets fell into a 1-5 hole and never could dig themselves out. The third-year head coach said his team will have to become mentally tougher as they move ahead.
"Just the experience of going through adversity. You have to stay true to who you are regardless of what happens around you and just getting that across to the team, making them mentally tougher is one of the things going forward that they're going to have to learn how to do," he said.
They will move forward without two future Ring of Honor members, the No. 2 scorer in franchise history, the single-season franchise record holder in catches and a veteran who started 37 games at RT since 2014.
"As a coach it's going to be hard because you don't always have to replace veteran players whether they're big names or not. So that's tough because you get to know them and spend time with them every day," Bowles said. "The young players I don't worry about because you have to teach. Whether they're old or young, you treat them the same. You teach football and that's the part I'm excited about. I'm not afraid of the unknown and I feel no differently the day I took the job than I do now. I have a lot of faith whether our older guys stay or if we have some young guys come in and play. It's up to us to teach them as coaches and we'll do that."
The Jets are scheduled to have four selections in the first three rounds of April's draft including the No. 6 overall pick. Over their last two draft classes, the Green & White have added Pro Bowl DT Leonard Williams and a three-down LB in Darron Lee. OLBs Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Mauldin will be mentored in 2017 by one of the most prolific pass rushers in history in Kevin Greene. CB Juston Burris could compete for a spot on the outside and T Brandon Shell is expected to challenge for the RT vacancy.
Take a Look Behind the Scenes at Thursday's Activities at the NFL Combine
"You don't have an age limit on who plays. You want to play good football players," Bowles said. "Coming out of college, everybody is going to be young and you have to prove yourself. I'm not afraid of the unknown. We don't have the names that we had in the past, but that doesn't mean we won't have the players that we can get."
In addition to the most recent roster changes, Bowles has made a number of additions to his coaching staff. He said you learn what a team needs and what it doesn't as a coach. He intends on giving them what they need in 2017.
"We just need to play smarter and more disciplined. That's the biggest thing," he said. "It's not a quality to add. I think we have to add the right people to take over the team and to make this their team and add those qualities themselves. The coaches will try to emulate that and make sure we put that forward."