True test about to begin for Jets coach Todd Bowles


If we were to label the level of Jets turbulence this summer, we'd go with the type in which strangers are holding hands, the flight attendants are sobbing and prayers of all faiths echo throughout the cabin.

Welcome to the weird, wild and sometimes unbelievable world of the New York Jets, Todd Bowles!

Geno Smith will not begin the season as the Jets' starter on Sept. 13. He might even not be eating solid foods by then. This is what happens when you stick your finger in the face of a crazy person. Linebacker IK Enemkpali broke Smith's jaw in two places. Geno, because he's kind of a different dude, posted a photo of himself on Instagram with the message, "I'll be back." OK.

We're sure Geno will return, but it remains to be seen if he'll ever get his starting job back. It's Ryan Fitzpatrick's gig now, a stunning turn of events for a team prepping for its preseason opener. It all amounts to a huge challenge for Bowles, who has been no stranger to the unforeseen since his team reported to Florham Park late last month.

Camp started with a bombshell, when news surfaced that star defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson had hidden a July arrest connected to a street-racing incident in his native Missouri. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan openly acknowledged that trust in Richardson had been broken and it's unclear if Richardson -- already suspended four games for a substance abuse violation -- will play a snap in 2015.

Bowles has faced on-field drama as well. Wide receiver Devin Smith, a second-round pick ticketed for a role as a needed vertical threat in Chan Gailey's offense, has been shut down after breaking multiple ribs in practice. The team also lost cornerback and former first-round pick Dee Milliner, whose attempt at a comeback season has been temporarily derailed by a wrist injury that required surgery.

When Bowles took over as coach in January, he preached accountability and promised a tight ship after six years of the easy-going Rex Ryan regime. We imagine there are hot takes to come that the drama around the Jets acts as a hint Bowles is in over his head. But there's little Bowles could have done to stop anything that's transpired to this point. You can't even blame Bowles and Maccagnan for Enemkpali -- consider him one last parting gift from former GM John Idzik.

Bowles' true test begins now. At a point where the season could start to spiral before it starts, Bowles must provide a steadying hand to guide this eternally star-crossed team out of its latest electrical storm. Bowles knew he faced a challenge. He had no idea.

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