FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — All Todd Bowles wants are reliable football players. And it’s clear that Dee Milliner and Jace Amaro didn’t fit what the Jets are trying to build.
“We’ve got to go with healthy guys that can play football,” Bowles said Monday.
Milliner and Amaro, two of the Jets’ most disappointing draft picks in recent years, were released Saturday as the team slashed its roster to 53 players. But while the cuts spoke volumes about the previous regime’s drafting strategy, Bowles insisted that the players’ ties to former general manager John Idzik didn’t seal their fate.
“You don’t get rid of players because a new regime comes in,” Bowles said. “You get rid of players because you don’t think they fit your system or things like that. I’ll take a bunch of Rex’s players, I’ll take Herm’s player. Hell, if Bill [Parcells] had players left, I’d take Bill’s players.
“You play football players. You watch them, what fits your scheme and what fits what you want to do, and you keep the guys that fit. And the guys that don’t, if they can play, we try to find a spot on this team. If not, they might be good for somebody else’s team. It may not be a fit; that doesn’t mean they can’t play.”
Bowles, a very good but not great NFL safety, appears to care less about where a player was drafted than many coaches do. During his eight-year playing career, he prided himself on always being available and outworking the flashier, bigger-name guys. As a coach, he seeks out players who share those qualities.
“You can see it’s a new staff, a new program,” said safety Rontez Miles, who was waived at this time last year, was signed to the practice squad a day later and was added to the 53-man roster in November. “They’re making it into their team.”
For all of their presumed talent, neither Milliner, the oft-injured cornerback taken ninth overall in 2013, nor Amaro, a 2014 second-round pick who missed last season with a torn labrum, could stay on the field for long.
“The other guys were healthier,” Bowles said when asked about deciding to waive Milliner with an injury designation. (After going unclaimed, he reverted to the Jets’ injured reserve list.) “He got a chance to play and gave up some plays. And he was banged up quite a bit.”
“He’s another one that kept getting banged up,” he said of the 6-5 tight end, whom the Titans claimed. “We had two tight ends blocking there and we needed a third that would be reliable. Maybe he didn’t get enough time to heal. Maybe he did. But that was our decision to go in another direction.”
The Jets, who added waiver claims Braedon Bowman and Brian Parker on Sunday, have four tight ends on the roster, including Kellen Davis and Brandon Bostick. But when asked if they’ll keep them all past Week 1, Bowles said: “Probably not.”