Changing a culture takes time, as Jets are learning the hard way
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The New York Jets are trying to improve their locker-room culture, which was tainted last season by a player feud (Brandon Marshall versus Sheldon Richardson), player tardiness (Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson), a profane SnapChat video (Richardson) and a general malaise that contributed to the 5-11 record.
Coach Todd Bowles has shipped out the old and the complacent, replacing them with young, hungry players willing to buy into the program. The work isn’t done, as they’re still looking to deal away Richardson and Calvin Pryor. On the flip side, the addition of first-round pick Jamal Adams, a strong leader in college, will help. As Bowles noted on draft day, “The culture we’re trying to create, he’s perfect for our building.”
The feel-good momentum didn’t last long.
It was disrupted Monday with the news out of South Florida that wide receiver Robby Anderson — one of the few bright spots last season — was arrested after allegedly fighting with police at a rap concert in Miami. Per the police report, he was charged with “resisting arrest with violence” — a felony.
This shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s important to stress that Anderson hasn’t been found guilty of anything and, as we saw with the Darrelle Revis situation, a criminal charge (even a felony) can be dropped quickly. Nevertheless, it hurts from a perception standpoint.
Two steps forward, one step back — the story of the Jets’ offseason.
Their off-the-field scorecard: three suspensions, two arrests, no convictions.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, wide receiver Jalin Marshall and cornerback Nick Marshall were suspended a total of 10 games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy (Seferian-Jenkins) and PED policy (both Marshalls). The Jets released Nick Marshall last week, but that was hardly a statement because he wouldn’t have made the team anyway.
Some people will try to connect the dots to paint a picture of dysfunction under Bowles, but that would be a stretch. First of all, Seferian-Jenkins was disciplined because of a DUI arrest that occurred while he was playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last September. The Jets knew when they claimed him on waivers that he faced the likelihood of a suspension. Jalin Marshall tested positive for Adderall, which he called an inadvertent, one-time mistake.
As for Anderson, we still don’t have all the facts. The league, no doubt, will look into the matter. Under Goodell Law, he could be disciplined even if he’s cleared of the charges. The first court conference will be Monday.
The culture-changing business isn’t easy and takes time, as Bowles is learning. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have a lot of time, not after two non-playoff seasons. Above all, he can’t let this sort of thing became the narrative, because nothing turns off an owner more than seeing his players get into trouble.
The coach needs to put an end to this developing pattern — now — before it becomes an alarming trend.