Jets head coach Todd Bowles spoke with reporters bright and early this morning from the AFC Head Coaches Breakfast at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix. Eric Allen will report on Bowles talking about an open QB competition beginning with next month's start of the offseason program. And Ethan Greenberg has Bowles discussing doing more work with new offensive coordinator John Morton in the offensive meeting rooms this season.
Besides those topics, Bowles was peppered with questions on a variety of topics by reporters. Here are six takeaways from today's session:
1. Tough GoodbyesBowles lamented the departure of the several veterans who departed the roster this month before or at the start of the unrestricted free agency period.
"We lost a lot of name players," he said. "We lost Marshall, we lost Mangold, we lost Revis, we lost Breno. We lost a lot of guys and a lot of production."
2. Specifically, NickThe coach was asked specifically about C Nick Mangold and what he brought to the Jets for the past 10 seasons.
"Nick carried a great banner for us and he was a heck of a leader," Bowles said. "All of [the releases] are tough. Those guys, with that kind of career, those type of people and those type of personalities ... He was fun to work around every day, he brought life to that building every single day. So yeah, that was tough."
3. The New OrderBut Bowles was not buying into a leadership or competition void on the 2017 Jets.
On leadership skills: "I think a bunch of them have them. It's just a matter of saying it at the right time. You can't force a leader. You can train them, and some of them are naturally gifted. They were all leaders in college. Then you take a back seat to some guys when you come into the league. But those guys I expect to see step up. We have about 15 of them that I'm pretty sure can lead."
And on playing level, he said despite the departures, "that doesn't mean the other guys cannot play. They just haven't made household names for themselves yet. But I'm excited about the season, I'm excited about the young guys coming in. And we're going to be competitive and I know those guys are going to play well."
4. Mo, Mo, MoOn defense, a few names came up, including two with the same nickname. Bowles shrugged off a report about Muhammad Wilkerson's physical shape at this time.
"I don't read reports, so I haven't looked into it, no," Todd said. As far as Mo's 2016, he said he played hurt most of the year: "We had to give him some off days. And usually those [injuries] take about a year and a half to come back from. He came back early, gutted it out, and showed the kind of warrior he is. Hopefully he's gotten better and he can go back to being himself."
The other Mo is Morris Claiborne, and the corner comes to the Jets with injury concerns in his past, which Bowles addressed.
"You root for the kid. He has a history where some freak injuries happened, where it hadn't gone well. So we're giving him a chance and we'll see," Bowles said. "We think we got a good one if he can stay healthy. That remains be seen. But I know he can play."
Best Snapshots of the New Jets CB
5. Tight on OffenseBowles' offense with Chan Gailey coordinating didn't rely on tight ends. That approach wasn't a problem in '15 but was more so last year. Heading toward the new season, Todd wasn't tipping his hand on TE but said a lot of that will be up to new OC John Morton.
"It all depends on the players at the position," he said. "We had talent at the wide receiver position, so we really didn't need the tight end position that much. Going in, we'll see how we fit offensively and schematically. According to what we can do, I'm sure John will make the proper adjustments whether we need to get the TE the ball a lot more."
6. Always the PatsBowles also got the obligatory question about what he's going to do about catching the Patriots. He acknowledged the Super Bowl champs but was hardly throwing in the towel for '17:
"They're a good team, they've been around for a long time, they've got a great coach, they've got a great quarterback, they've got some good players. ... I don't worry about the Patriots in March. That's not in my lifespan right now. When we play them the week before, we'll deal with them. I'm more worried about getting our team together than I am about their guys."