Woody Johnson sat alone in the owners’ box at MetLife Stadium with headphones wrapped over his green-and-white Jets cap, texting away on his smart phone. For a moment, you wondered whether Moises Alou would materialize and start yelling at him.
The billionaire boss man for this star-crossed franchise had that disinterested look that his paying customers can appreciate during this miserable season. Like Jets fans, he surely must be wondering whether he hired the right head coach.
Todd Bowles has been maligned for the better part of three months for the smorgasbord of slop that his team has churned out. He’s made questionable coaching decisions, one dubious personnel decision and a litany of hard-to-justify tactics that have played a part in this nightmare of a season.
It’s impossible to know if Bowles’ team hit rock-bottom Sunday with their 22-17 loss to the Patriots’ one-legged 39-year-old man with more heart, fire and drive than anyone in the Jets locker room, but plenty of fair questions remain about this first-time head coach.
Let’s get this out of the way: Bowles should not be fired after this season.
Although the Jets are a less-than-inspiring 13-14 under his watch, it’d be silly at this point to ignore his 10-win campaign from a year ago. Some will dismiss his rookie season as a fluke, but that’s unfair. It might prove to be a mirage, but Bowles deserves more time.
“Firing people and then bringing somebody else in there ain’t always the answer,” Sheldon Richardson said. “We knew everything they were doing today and it still backfired. It wasn’t coaching calls. We didn’t execute enough. They won. We lost. Period.”
Bowles’ understated demeanor hasn’t exactly galvanized a frustrated fan base during these rough times. Quite frankly, some of his public remarks lack consistency, making it extremely difficult to truly understand his thought process.
Bowles was resolute when asked how he’ll keep his team together amid this mess.
“We know that we’re in this boat together – win, lose or draw,” he said. “We won 10 games with the same group last year.”
The very next query centered on his frustration level a year after that 10-win season.
“Last year has nothing to do with this year,” he quipped, marginalizing what he had just said.
Johnson must have some doubt. He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t. The owner, after all, desperately wanted to hire Dan Quinn to be his next head coach. He was prepared to fly his private Jet to Seattle if the Seahawks lost their divisional round game against the Panthers in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs to seal the deal with Quinn.
Seattle’s run to the Super Bowl complicated matters for the Jets, who feared that waiting on Quinn might leave them with egg on their face if he chose another coaching vacancy. They also feared that Bowles might take the Falcons’ vacancy even though that was never a realistic possibility (unbeknownst to them).
The Jets’ poor performance will lead to a second straight year under Bowles of no playoffs.
So, Johnson hired Bowles, who the team publicly sold as their top choice. Now, Bowles has felt the wrath of a fan base that has abandoned ship after his curious decision to re-insert Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback rather than give an extended look-see to Bryce Petty (or even Christian Hackenberg). The Jets’ playoffs hopes are dead and buried. Forging ahead with Petty was the most sensible path. Bowles, who thought otherwise, didn’t name his starter for next week’s Monday night game against the Colts.
Bowles has also been betrayed by some of the players that he needed the most (see: Darrelle Revis and Mo Wilkerson), whose half-hearted efforts and brazen disregard for team rules have stained this season, too. Some players still say they believe in him, which should count for something. “No coaching change,” cornerback Buster Skrine said. “Bowles is a great coach. Like I said, we got to finish. They can’t go out there and win the game. Obviously he’s coaching us well enough to get us in those situations to win. We just got to make plays at the end of the game.”
It’s more complicated than that though.
Although Bowles said the 9-2 Patriots “made one more play than we did” on Sunday, the truth is that Bill Belichick’s team made many more plays than the 3-8 Jets. They also made the important plays in clutch moments while Bowles’ team crumbled in winning time. Bowles might not be out there in shoulder pads, but the repeated second-half no-shows/meltdowns are a clear reflection of the head coach.
Herman Edwards, Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan each made the playoffs in their first season under Johnson. Edwards and Ryan made the postseason in their first two years.
Bowles will miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year. He should get an opportunity to coach a third one. If things don’t markedly change, we’ll be having a very different conversation about the head coach a year from now.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News