The Jets will introduce new uniforms in 2019, but the jerseys of a few Jets have already undergone a significant change in 2018.
Five Jets players now have a “C” on the right shoulder of their jerseys, signifying they are captains. Jets coach Todd Bowles named captains for the first time this season, breaking from his first three years when he had rotating weekly game captains.
The decision has gone largely unnoticed but Bowles and a few of the captains spoke to The Post this week about the change. The Jets captains are safety Jamal Adams, guard James Carpenter, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, nose tackle Steve McLendon and defensive end Leonard Williams.
“We were still trying to find out who we were the first couple of years,” Bowles told The Post. “I didn’t get to know anybody well enough to make them a captain the first year. The second year and third year I didn’t see anybody stepping up.
“This year, I really looked from the spring until now. I was looking for guys that characterized the work ethic and the way we wanted to play and take the field every game. Those five names came up.”
They are a blend of offense and defense, young and old, quiet and vocal. But they stood out enough during this offseason for Bowles to tab them.
He actually named everyone but McLendon a captain before Week 1, telling them in a team meeting. The team then elected McLendon the fifth captain before Week 2. The players did not receive the “C” for their jersey until the second game against the Dolphins.
“It’s an honor to have the ‘C’ on my chest,” said Adams, who at 22 is the youngest captain. “Being a kid, playing Madden or seeing other guys that have the ‘C’ on their chest, it’s such an honor to be picked by your coaching staff, your teammates. It’s a good thing to have that respect.”
Enunwa said he was a captain in college at Nebraska, but this feels different. Enunwa, a sixth-round pick in 2014, has become one of the Jets’ best players.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Enunwa said. “I definitely appreciate it. To be considered that has made me play that much harder. I’m in a position where I have that ‘C’ on my chest and I have to make sure I’m fulfilling my duties.”
McLendon, the 32-year-old veteran of the group, called it “surreal” when he saw the “C” on his jersey before the Jets faced the Dolphins in Week 2.
“To me, I wear that ‘C’ proud,” McLendon said. “I believe in this team. I believe in the guys in this locker room. I believe. That’s what that ‘C’ is all about. It’s the constant belief between me and my teammates. They trust me to represent us well. I just have to make sure I lead them along with everyone else who wears that ‘C.’ It comes with a lot of responsibilities on and off the field. I don’t want to take it lightly.”
The Jets have not had permanent captains since 2011 when Rex Ryan picked them. It did not work out well that year when Ryan selected wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who spent the year feuding with quarterback Mark Sanchez and other teammates.
Ryan did not name yearly captains for the final three years he was the coach and Bowles stuck with game captains when he took over. But this year, Bowles felt it was time.
“The guys gravitate toward certain people and you kind of make an executive decision,” Bowles said.
Bowles gave his thoughts on what makes each captain a leader:
Jamal Adams – “His work ethic is outstanding. He’s very inspirational, a fiery guy. He’s always upbeat. He plays the game the way we want to play. He never lets the guys get down. Although, experience-wise he has some things to learn, his maturity level on the field brings a whole different dynamic for us.”
James Carpenter – “Carp is quiet off the field. He is very vocal on the field. He loves to play the game and he plays it the right way. He’s all about football. In the spring, summer, fall, he’s all ball. He’s one of the first ones in the building and he studies all the time. He loves to play the game. The physicality of the game excites him. You need the inspiration over there on the offense and guys follow him.”
Quincy Enunwa – “Quincy brought an excitement and energy back to the offense. His work ethic in the spring and in the summer, even when his thumb was messed up, has been unbelievable. He plays the game how I want every one of my players to play the game. He’s exciting, tough, smart, heady. That’s the element he brings and that’s what I want in a captain.”
Steve McLendon – “Steve is the vocal leader. He’s very well-spoken and he always says the right thing at the right time. He’s very positive and understands what the team needs and when it needs it. He practices that way. He plays that way. He’s very powerful and everybody respects him.”
Leonard Williams – “Leonard’s consistent. He’s the same guy every day. He has the energy up front. He doesn’t say a lot, but when he does speak everybody listens because he doesn’t waste words. He has a lot of substance. His work ethic from the spring until now has been great.”
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