FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Head coach Todd Bowles once again channeled his inner Bill Belichick following Sunday's 27-23 loss to the Dolphins, when he repeatedly dubbed the first-quarter benchings of stars Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson a "coach's decision." (For the record, he said it six times.)
Bowles repeated the mantra Monday, when he uttered "coach's decision" once and the phrase "in-house," regarding disciplinary measures, five times in response to questions about Wilkerson and Richardson. But any sliver of doubt about the reason behind the benchings was likely erased earlier Monday, when NJ.com and NFL.com both reported a pattern of tardiness by Wilkerson and Richardson.
NJ.com reported Wilkerson and Richardson " ... are regularly late or miss team meetings." NFL.com reported Wilkerson, whom the Jets signed to a five-year extension in July, missed a walkthrough and a defensive meeting on Oct. 22, which was Wilkerson's birthday as well as the day before a game against the Baltimore Ravens. According to NFL.com, teammates at the defensive meeting were planning to surprise Wilkerson with a cake.
Wilkerson was a surprise inactive against the Ravens due to what the team called an ankle injury. He was also benched for the first quarter against the New York Giants last Dec. 6 after missing a team meeting.
This is the first known instance of Richardson being punished by the coaching staff, though he has been suspended twice by the NFL for off-field incidents.