Too early to declare 'In Todd We Trust' -- but Bowles has right stuff


They've been in this place before. New coach, fast start, renewed optimism and an overall sense they finally have the right leader.

It happened to the New York Jets in 2009 with Rex Ryan, who had the city buzzing with a 3-0 start. It was the same feeling in 2006, when Eric Mangini inherited a four-win team and turned it into 10 wins. Remember, he was Mangenius, Bill Belichick's estranged Mini-Me.

Herm Edwards was an instant hit in 2001. In fact, he, Mangini and Ryan made the playoffs in their first seasons. People forget Al Groh started 6-1 in 2000 before the players succumbed to Groh fatigue. The greatest new coach of them all was Bill Parcells, who removed the black cloud that hung over the franchise by taking a 1-15 team and leading it to the cusp of the playoffs in 1997.

Now we're on to Todd Bowles, who navigated a tough preseason and has the team at 3-1, second place in the AFC East. Once again, the excitement is building. The fan base is entranced by the new man in charge, the poker-faced coach who doesn't smile unless he's talking about Gladys Knight.

But the true fans -- the ones teased by the early success of coaches past -- know that a tap of the brakes is in order. Even Bowles said, "We haven't accomplished anything."

Listen to the coach. It's a long a season, and there will be plenty of twists and turns over the next 12 weeks. So, yes, it's too early to draw conclusions about Bowles, but there's one characteristic that stands out -- a few, actually. He's an amalgam of his predecessors, and I mean that in a good way. I think he possesses the best traits of the previous Jets coaches.

Bowles has Ryan's defensive acumen and aggressive mentality. He has lived up to his reputation as a blitz-minded coach, as the Jets have blitzed on a league-high 85 pass plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It's tough to argue with the results; the Jets are first in scoring defense and third in total defense.

He has Mangini's no-nonsense approach, instilling a sense of discipline that was missing under Ryan. Bowles isn't draconian, a la Mangini, but he subscribes to the old-school belief that law and order are necessary to achieve success.

He has Edwards' ex-player aura. Like Edwards, Bowles played in the league, and that resonates among players in the locker room. He was one of them, creating a connection different from the usual coach-player relationship.

He has Groh's ... oh, never mind. Funny thing is, Bowles got his first NFL coaching gig from Groh, who hired him in 2000 as the Jets' secondary coach. That's where the similarities end.

Lastly, Bowles has Parcells' ability to see the big picture. A great coach can step away from the X's and O's and take the wide view of his team and/or a particular game. The opposite would be Ryan, who was so immersed in his defense that he lost the pulse of the entire team. Bowles has a long way to go before he equals Parcells in this respect, but you see the early signs of a coach who gets it.

But there's still so much more to learn about Bowles. He still hasn't faced Belichick. He still hasn't faced an elite defense. He still hasn't been in a close game, meaning his clock-management skills haven't been tested. By Nov. 12, when he will have faced every team in the division, we'll have a better idea of whether the "In Todd We Trust" label applies.