FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — In spite of all the losses, the mounting criticism and the failed expectations, the Jets’ locker room has not fractured, Brandon Marshall said. He had a simple answer as to why.
“Todd Bowles,” he said.
Marshall came to the defense of his coach Wednesday as calls for Bowles’ firing grew louder following a 41-10 loss to the Colts on Monday Night Football. Marshall admitted the criticism by fans is “warranted” given their 3-9 record, but he also railed against the prevalent impatience in the NFL and the constant changeover of coaches. He also blasted his former team in the process.
“How did that work out for Chicago?” Marshall said, referring to the firing of coach Marc Trestman after two seasons and hiring John Fox in 2015. The Bears finished 6-10 in Fox’s first year and are 3-9.
“Sometimes you blow up stuff and you feel like that’s the answer, and it’s not,” said Marshall, who was traded from Chicago to the Jets after the Bears went 5-11 in 2014.
“That’s one of the reasons why football is so terrible in the NFL these days because there’s so much turnover. People are expecting guys to win right away. You bring in a new regime and they say you have a year or two to do it. You need time to build things, you need chemistry.”
After a 10-6 finish in 2015, the Jets seemed poised to take the next step and make the playoffs. But poor quarterback play (former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 10 interceptions in the first four games) and an underperforming defense (23rd against the pass and tied for 30th in sacks) helped to curtail their progress. Monday night’s loss officially eliminated them from playoff contention and raised questions about Bowles’ future with the franchise.
Despite their record, dysfunction hasn’t filtered into their locker room, Marshall said. He credited Bowles for that.
“You guys do remember a couple years ago he was probably the most coveted coach out there. All of a sudden he lost it?” asked Marshall, who called Bowles “a man of his word,” “a man’s man” and “a mix between Bill Parcells and Lovie Smith.”
The Bears, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, parted ways with Smith following nine seasons after a 10-6 finish in 2012. Trestman then went 13-19 in two years. Fox (9-19) has done even worse.
Marshall acknowledged the Jets are having “a bad year” but he said his 2014 season in Chicago was “100 times worse because the locker room was divided.
“That was the worst environment, worst year I’ve ever had. Ever. Ever. And you can look at it from the outside and say this is a similar situation, but it’s not. There was a division between players, there was a division between players and coaches, and we don’t have that. We’ve had some tough conversations, we’ve held each other accountable, but we’re still together. And that’s promising.”