The New York Jets took the field on Sunday without two of their best defenders out there. Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson were noticeably absent from the game when the Jets defense came out for the Dolphins’ first possession. The next time they came out? Missing again.
The reason for that is because Richardson and Wilkerson were benched for the first quarter. Todd Bowles called it a “coach’s decision” after the loss, which was echoed by Wilkerson as he left the locker room Sunday. None of the three elaborated on the situation, but it likely has to do with team meetings.
According to Connor Hughes of NJ.com, Richardson and Wilkerson were benched for regularly missing or being late to team meetings. It wasn’t just one or two absences, either. The source told NJ.com that it happens “all the time.”
That’s not to say this was unequivocally the reason for their benching, but it’s safe to assume it had something to do with Bowles’ decision.
Wilkerson was benched for the first quarter of the Jets’ game against the Giants last season for being late to meetings, so this shouldn’t be particularly surprising.
The Dolphins scored a touchdown on their opening drive without Richardson and Wilkerson out there and would pad their lead with another touchdown on their second drive. It’s clear the Jets need both players on the field as much as possible, but Bowles is standing by his no-nonsense attitude, which he has established from Day 1.