Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks...

Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets looks on against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

If you're wondering where the heck that came from, then go back to last Monday morning, when Todd Bowles set the stage for what would turn out to be the Jets' most dominant performance of the season.

Six days before Sunday's 38-20 rout of the Dolphins, a game in which the Jets looked better than they had all season, Bowles stood before his players and felt nearly as angry as he had been the previous day, when the Jets were mostly abysmal in a loss to the Texans in Houston.

Bowles excoriated his team in the locker room after that listless loss, the Jets' fourth in the previous five games. And though some of the anger had dissipated when he met the players the next morning, the message was just as stern. He gave them a choice.

"He told us straight up: 'Either you want to make something out of this season and make the playoffs, or you want to pack your bags early,' '' strong safety Calvin Pryor said. "Coach Bowles was really fired up and just kept telling the guys he expects more from us."

The day after that meeting, Bowles sent an unmistakable message about his level of expectation by releasing underperforming defensive end/linebacker Quinton Coples, a former first-round pick whose play and playing time had diminished significantly in the course of the season.

Though the coach said it was not his intention to send any kind of message with the move, it certainly hit home in a locker room that clearly needed to be shaken up.

"I don't think it had an impact, because he wasn't playing [for the Jets] in the first place," Bowles said about the Coples move, even though the he was claimed on waivers by Miami and played some Sunday.

When asked if Coples' release put more pressure on his own players to perform, Bowles replied, "That wasn't the message trying to be sent."

Ultimately, however, that was the message received by the players, particularly on defense. And even if you take into account the fact that the Dolphins aren't the most explosive offense, you got the feeling this defense would have played well against anyone. They were fast. They were loose. And they were relentless.

It doesn't mean they'll maintain that level of play, but it does mean that the Jets finally rediscovered themselves.

Give Bowles a big-time assist for that.

Pryor himself did a terrific job of turning Bowles' message into action, as his huge hit on wide receiver Rishard Matthews on a first-quarter pass breakup set the tone early. The Jets played shutout ball most of the way. Miami was held to 12 rushing yards and basically gave up even trying to run it by the end of the first half. Ryan Tannehill wound up throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns, but most of that was in garbage time of the second half.

Ryan Fitzpatrick had his own bounce-back moment against the Dolphins, recovering from a poor performance in Houston -- and a series of mostly mediocre efforts before that -- to throw for 277 yards and a season-high four TDs.

Fitzpatrick had processed Bowles' message of getting more out of this team, but he went into the game in a decidedly upbeat frame of mind. "The theme in the locker room before the game was let's go out there and have some fun," he said. "It's not a whole lot of fun to not play well and lose and all that stuff. Let's just go out there loose and have some fun and see what happens."

Good things happened, and the stage now is set for what figures to be a dramatic matchup against the Giants. "It's different because you're in the same hometown, and you don't have that with any other team," Nick Mangold said of the Giants. "You obviously don't play them every year, so it does have a little different feel to it. But again, it's the next stop in our 16-game season."

And another chance for the Jets to show their coach they mean business every bit as much as he does. "The group we have here, we're capable of doing a lot of great things," Pryor said. "We just have to keep winning, stack as many wins as possible."

The choice Bowles presented is an easy one for Pryor and his teammates. "We have to control our own destiny so good things will happen," Pryor said. "We're not ready to go home yet."