Todd Bowles might never be able to master Bill Belichick’s low-talking, mumbling act, but he’s certainly a fan of his say-nothing culture.
The Jets would have saved a boatload of money by downloading the audio of Belichick’s press conferences for players rather than hire a sleep specialist for their London trip earlier this month. Belichick’s droning would have knocked them all out.
Bowles is building a foundation that looks and sounds an awful lot like The Patriot Way (without the paranoia). Although the Jets rookie head coach cracked that he is “not going to take (players) in the back of the woodshed and beat them” if they say something that he disagrees with, there is a decidedly do-your-job vibe on One Jets Drive these days.
“You’re always going to learn from good coaches and good teams,” Bowles told the Daily News in the run-up to his team’s divisional showdown in Foxborough on Sunday. “Sometimes you see him answer questions and (think), ‘That’s not a bad answer.’”
Belichick is actually one of the NFL’s more insightful head coaches on certain topics. His eight-minute NFL rules dissertation in the wake of the Seattle-Detroit mess a few weeks ago was interesting. His Mona Lisa Vito reference in the early stages of DeflateGate unwittingly turned him into a comedian.
Those were the exceptions that proved the rule: The Patriots commander-in-chief has a PhD in boredom.
A snapshot from the Patriots’ first day of training camp:
Reporter: Is there something flawed about the system here in the organization that you keep ending up in these cheating controversies? Can you explain why?
Belichick: It’s already been addressed.
Reporter: Could you elaborate a little?
Reporter: Why not?
Belichick: Because it’s already been addressed.
It takes a special gift to consistently say this little.
“Well, some of the questions he answers are very detailed,” said Bowles, who has only occasionally crossed paths with the fellow Bill Parcells disciple. “He doesn’t have to answer detailed questions to answer the question. Some of the questions are loaded questions. He does a very good job of keeping everything the same and not answering loaded questions.”
Bowles’ catch phrases have already started to permeate the building. So, you’ll hear players insist that it’s all about “stacking chips” and winning another round in a “16-round fight.” Even some of the typically more colorful personalities have dialed down the rhetoric from the Rex Ryan days.
“It’s an important game because it’s the next game,” elder statesman Calvin Pace said with the half-smile of a man who you know yearned to say more.
Bowles has used a variation of Belichick’s “on-to-Cincinnati” rallying cry from a year ago to help create his new culture with the Jets. The internal hype surrounding Patriots Week has been muffled by Bowles’ matter-of-fact approach that is eerily Belichickian.
“He doesn’t shoot any bull crap,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie told the News. “He’s a straight-forward guy. That why I love him.”
It wasn’t long ago when players loved Ryan for promoting Jets-Patriots week with a hurricane of one-liners. His players fed off that energy.
Bowles doesn’t subscribe to wild emotional swings theory. So, he’s turned down the volume. Listen carefully or you’re liable to find yourself wearing a puffy shirt on national television.
“It’s not going to put us in the Super Bowl and it’s not going to put us out of the playoffs,” Bowles said of facing the Patriots this week. “It’ll be an intense game, I’m sure. But if you look at it as anything other than that, you’re wrong. You’re going to talk yourself out of it.”
There’s ample evidence that both coaching styles work (even though Ryan’s approach obviously was extreme). Pete Carroll is as fiery as they come. His team has done pretty well. Belichick’s resume speaks for itself.
Bowles isn’t Belichick, but Jets linebackers coach Mike Caldwell sees important similarities.
“They resemble each other, because they’re so to the point about what the offense is doing,” said Caldwell, who played three seasons for Belichick in Cleveland. “There’s no gray area. Here’s what you should do. Here’s what you’re looking for. That’s where the similarities lie… They give you an understanding. They let you know what you’re role is, what’s expected of you every week and now it’s up to you to go out there and perform it.”
Belichick’s ability to diagnose a play and help simplify a player’s responsibilities (and reduce anxiety) resonated with Caldwell.
“He told you what to look for, and nine times out of 10, he was right on,” Caldwell said. “It’s like Todd calling out plays.”
Bowles has plenty of personality (when the cameras aren’t rolling), but don’t expect him to show up to a public event with a wig or pillow stuffed under his shirt anytime soon. He is more Belichick than Rex.