By Glenn Naughton
With the Jets and Browns just a few short days away, JetNation.com takes a peek at the men who will oversee their respective teams on each side of the ball.
Todd Bowles- For the better part of the past decade, the New York Jets have been known for a few things. Strong defense, putrid offense, and a sometimes out of control atmosphere. How fitting then, that the last time Todd Bowles held the title of head coach, albeit on an interim basis with the Miami Dolphins for the fired Tony Sparano in 2011, he got to see all three up close and personal.
It was the final game of the 2011 season when Bowles’ Dolphins beat Rex Ryan’s Jets 19-17. It was a signature day for the Jets, as quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the running game was solid yet unspectacular as the longest carry of the day was an eleven-yard run from Ladanian Tomlinson, and the only thing anyone cared about after the game was then-wide receiver Santonio Holmes’ on-field meltdown that got him pulled from the game with the game’s outcome still in doubt.
The defense Bowles faced that day is far more significant however, because this Sunday, he’ll be standing across from Mike Pettine, who was the Jets defensive coordinator when the two last squared off. Against Pettine and the Jets, Bowles’ Dolphins rushed for just 82 yards on 26 carries, and quarterback Matt Moore was held to a mere 135 yards through the air with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Dolphins had no answer for the Jets defense on that day, but this time around, Bowles will be the one armed with the likes of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, not Pettine.
Mike Pettine- The Rex Ryan understudy for years with the Ravens and Jets, Mike Pettine enters his second season as a head coach after spending just one year in Buffalo as the Bills’ defensive coordinator.
Viewed by many as a no-nonsense disciplinarian who would straighten out the Browns locker room, it didn’t take long for that theory to fall flat on its face as he will be missing his top receiver, Josh Gordon, due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy for the umpteenth time, and quarterback Johnny Manziel tries to get his career on track after his off-season rehab stint.
Then of course there’s the drama unfolding for the Browns in real time as their offensive line coach, Andy Moeller, who reportedly has a history of off-field issues, was arrested for reportedly trying to strangle his fiancé earlier this week. Is this is a string of isolated incidents, or does Pettine’s tight ship need a few lifeboats? Only time will tell.
With all of this in mind, Pettine still has to get his team ready to play the Jets and the head coach apparently feels there are some real similarities between the defense he and Bowles employ, recently referring to them as a mirror image of one another.
Much like the teams Pettine was a part of with the Jets and Bills, he will once again prepare to take on a Todd Bowles defense without the benefit of a top-tier quarterback, but a highly regarded defense, led by cornerback Joe Hayden.
It’s a fitting start for Bowles in Green and White. The first test, the first match-up, against a head coach who was a big part of the 2011 season that fell apart not only in front of the eyes of Jets fans everywhere, but in front of the man whose job it is now, to turn it all around.