By Joe Leo
Published: November 14th, 2018
Ever since his introductory press conference, I have been a Todd Bowles defender—even saying that Bowles would be the head coach that would deliver gang green a Super Bowl title. When Bowles was announced as the successor to Rex Ryan, there was a sense of hope in the hiring, a new chapter and a fresh page. That hope was immediately validated in Bowles’ first season in 2015-16 with a 10-6 record, with the future looking bright. The defense looked like the defense that helped the Jets go to back to back AFC Championship games and the offense was historically good—with Fitzpatrick setting the touchdown record and both Marshall and Decker getting over 1,000 yards receiving. Then everything changed.
General Manager Mike Maccagnan changed the direction of the team and blew it up after only one season. Since then, Bowles has been 13-28 as he has tried to build up a culture from scratch. In doing that, the Jets have assembled a hint of an identity in 2018. After two seasons of building through the draft the defense has shown throughout the season that with more reps as a unit and added veteran help, it can become a dominate force in this league again. On offense, that’s another story.
Since the historic season by Fitzpatrick Bowles has been handed the likes of Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, Josh McCown, and Christian Hackenberg. That group of quarterbacks is suspect at best until the selection of Darnold in this past years’ draft. Darnold has struggled at times in his rookie campaign, but various people around the league see something in Darnold and believe he could be an above average quarterback in the NFL one day. So, I ask you again, why would you fire Todd Bowles?
Everything that has been wrong with this organization over Bowles’ tenor as coach has been out of his control. Maccagnan who is supposed to have the back of his head coach has dropped the ball on numerous occasions when putting a team together for Bowles to coach. When given good talent Bowles can be a borderline playoff coach. When he is not, he has taken some time to find his footing and navigate what he wants the identity of his team to look like. Why would you scrap the work and start fresh again? That totally defeats the purpose of drafting Darnold because you would stunt the growth of a then second-year quarterback. Maccagnan and the Jets would be insane to fire Bowles after this season leaving Darnold in the wake of a change in coaching philosophy and offensive systems.
The upper Jets management should not take their anger out on the head coach, rather the General Manager. Bowles himself hasn’t been bad considering the job that he thought he was taking in 2015 and the job he has now. Also, why extend Bowles at the beginning of the year if you didn’t believe in the direction he was taking the team? Darnold hadn’t played a game yet (or was even drafted) when Bowles got the extension; so if the plan was to draft Darnold all along, Bowles had to be in the plans for this organization in the offseason.
Too much of these rumors stink of desperation from a front office that is upset the rebuild they forced upon this team isn’t going well. It’s time for the Jets front office people to allow Bowles to continue the development of Darnold and molding this team, and when Darnold is ready to take the leap, then they can look at the state of the head coach. If it’s the other way around, the Jets will just bang their head against the reset button not knowing the implications of what they are doing for the long run. There could be a long road ahead for gang green.