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Jets lead NFL in dubious category, and it must change

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    A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

    1. Eight is enough: This offseason has produced a contrasting mix of emotions: cheers and groans. The Jets have given their long-suffering fans something to get excited about — hello, Sam Darnold — but they’ve also tempered the feel-good vibe with a spate of player arrests.

    Continuing an alarming trend that began in 2017, the Jets’ arrest total in the past 18 months is up to eight — the most in the NFL, according to USA Today data. The two most recent players arrested — rookie tight end Chris Herndon and linebacker Dylan Donahue — were involved in alleged drunken driving that resulted in crashes with other vehicles.

    It’s a bad look for the Jets, who are close to becoming a punchline.

    Who gets the blame? Start with the players themselves. They’re grown men and they must bear the brunt of the responsibility. Some might point to coach Todd Bowles, saying he has allowed this type of culture to develop. During his tenure, which began in January 2015, the Jets have nine arrests, second only to the Green Bay Packers (10).

    In fairness, it should be noted the charges in three of the arrests were dropped: those involving Robby Anderson (from the second of two arrests), Lorenzo Mauldin and Darrelle Revis. Still, the number is high when compared to the rest of the league. Bowles isn’t a bad sheriff — he’s an earnest coach who cares deeply about his players and the image of the team — but the problem persists. He can attack it by taking a strong public stance, sending a message that enough is enough.

    Responding to questions in the aftermath of the Herndon arrest, Bowles made the obligatory comments, insisting he doesn’t condone the bad behavior. But he didn’t exactly drop the hammer, saying, “There’s nothing wrong with the disciplinary process. The arrests are going to happen and you deal with them as they come.”

    Referring to the drunken-driving charges, he said, “It’s not a Jets problem or a league problem. It’s a nationwide problem.”

    Bowles doesn’t coach the nation; he coaches the Jets — and it’s happening on his watch. He’s trying to rectify it. He needs to try harder. So does the entire organization.

    2. Leo’s loot: The Jets are in no rush to give Leonard Williams a new contract, and he said he’s OK with waiting. When his time comes — figure next offseason — he’ll have plenty of leverage if he can deliver a 2016-like season (seven sacks and a Pro Bowl). Asked if his goal is to become one of the highest-paid defensive linemen, he said: “It’s one of my goals to be one of the best players, one of the best defensive linemen. When that comes, then I think the money comes with it.”

    So the answer is yes.

    Williams is due to make $3 million this season and $14.2 million in 2019, the amount of his fifth-year option. The Jets can use the franchise tag for 2020, but they’ll try to get a long-term deal worked out before that. If he wants the deal that Muhammad Wilkerson received in 2016 ($17 million per year, including $37 million guaranteed), Williams will have to raise his production after a two-sack season. Though Jets coaches are quick to say the sack total didn’t reflect his overall effectiveness, it could hurt him at the bargaining table if he registers another low number.

    To his credit, Williams is demonstrating patience.

    “The contract, that’s going to come,” he said. “There’s no pressure for it. I’m not like thirsty for it or anything like that.”

    3. What a business: Williams said he learned the harsh reality of the NFL as a rookie, when he noticed the occupant of the locker adjacent to his seemed to change on a weekly basis. The revolving-door nature of the business was reinforced last week. His best friend on the team, fellow USC product Claude Pelon, was waived because of an injury.

    Williams said he was “hurt” by the move, which is understandable. After all, Pelon has been living in Williams’ house this offseason.

    A quick postscript: Pelon cleared waivers and was assigned to the Jets’ injured-reserve list.

    4. Keeping up with Jones: The Jets replaced Pelon with veteran defensive lineman Chris Jones, who played an integral role in two Jets-Patriots games. In 2014, Jones blocked a potential winning field goal by Nick Folk, a redemptive moment for Jones. A year earlier, he was called for a pushing penalty that nullified a missed kick and allowed the Jets to upset the Patriots in overtime. After the ’14 loss, then-coach Rex Ryan lashed out at a reporter when reminded of the symmetry.

    5. Walking wounded: The Jets have a handful of injured players whose readiness for training camp appears up in the air, namely wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (ankle), linebacker Jordan Jenkins (shoulder) and wide receiver Devin Smith (knee). Others who bear watching are wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (neck), safety Marcus Maye (ankle) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (hand). This is only June, and the injury list reads as if it’s September.

    6. J.J. is Dy-no-mite: Safety J.J. Wilcox, who signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract ($210,000 guaranteed), has more career starts (39) than Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye combined. The Jets have really upgraded the safety position in the past two offseasons.

    7. Golfer’s paradise: The golf world will be focused on New York in the coming days, with the U.S. Open coming to Shinnecock Hills on the eastern end of Long Island. The biggest golf fan on the Jets might be wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who has played some of the region’s top courses in recent weeks — namely Winged Foot and Pine Valley.

    Kearse, a 9 handicap, is scheduled to play June 20 in the celebrity pro-am of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. He hopes to be paired with defending champion Jordan Spieth. Kearse knows Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller. They both have ties to the Seattle area.

    “That’s going to be a whole other level of nervousness,” Kearse said. “I’ve gotten a lot better playing in front of people, but I just feel like that’s going to be a whole other level.”

    Kearse said he had been starstruck only once in his life. It happened at former teammate Richard Sherman‘s celebrity softball game, where he met a former NBA star. Some dude named Kobe Bryant.

    8. Inspiring words: On Thursday night, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returned to Louisville, home of his alma mater, to speak at the Courier Journal sports awards banquet. Addressing the crowd, he discussed the 2016 knee injury that threatened his career and where he derived his strength to return.

    “I’m a fighter. My mom is a fighter,” he said, alluding to his mother’s successful battle with breast cancer. “I come from fighting DNA. If something happens, you don’t just lay down and do nothing.”

    9. Tweet of the week:

    10. The last word: “I went to the Luke Bryan-Sam Hunt-Jon Pardi concert [at MetLife Stadium], so that was really fun. … [Mostly], I’ve just been here. It’s been awesome, though, being able to spend time in Florham Park in the Jersey area, Morristown. It’s been really cool.” — Darnold, on whether he has experienced the New York nightlife.



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