It wasn’t all too long ago when New York Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles has garnering “Coach of the Year” talk. He had taken a team projected to finish 0-16 to a quick 3-2 record with a chance at grabbing first place of the division. Things quickly declined for the third year coach however, as the Jets continued to make silly mistakes, and in turn lose games.
But there was still hope for the team in the late weeks. The playoffs were still an achievable accolade, and the young team was seeing it’s development accelerate at a rapid rate.
A recent string of road blocks has put all “Coach of the Year” and playoff talk on hold however. And now the defensive-minded coach’s career could be on life support.
Rolling with the Punches
After being blown out by one of the league’s most under-performing teams in Week 14, many looked for a place to put the blame. Unfortunately for Bowles, most of it fell on him and the rest of the coaching staff as the team looked ill-advised in the loss against Denver.
With this game plan now being the new approach, all eyes will be on Bowles, and his flaws could certainly exposed.
Pray for NYJ
Besides helping the Jets to a few unexpected wins, much speculation around Bowles’ potential for “Coach of the Year” also stemmed from his so-called ability to accelerate the team’s development. Rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye have steadily improved as the season has progressed, and other young-guns in Darron Lee, Jordan Jenkins, and Elijah McGuire have garnered some attention as well.
But a lot of people look past the fact that McCown was the true trigger. His veteran presence and smart play allowed these pieces the room to grow and shine in the spotlight. Now the mirage will be uncovered for it’s reality in the Jets final three games.
If we rewind to the Jets offseason, it is clear that the Jets had no plan intact for their quarterback situation. It was an active battle all the way through the preseason, with Petty and Christian Hackenberg attempting to prove their worth, and McCown really only present to be a mentor.
And when the season began, McCown had locked up the job. The Jets and Bowles made it clear that they thought he would give the team the best chance to win, shadowing over the fact that they also thought Petty and Hackenberg were in stagnant development.
Now, in Week 15, we’ll get to see if anything has changed. It was a looming rumor that the two young quarterbacks were unprepared to start the season, but has the string of accelerated development now reached them?
Most would probably guess no, simply because of past outings we’ve seen from the two. Petty failed to impress in his short play time against Denver, and Hackenberg has never truly been a confident quarterback. And as much as the blame will be put on the quarterbacks themselves, it will unavoidably reflect on Bowles.
Performance equals Permanence
Many are expecting the Jets to take a hard landing in their last three games, and rightfully so. The Jets will face three potential playoff contenders in the Saints, Chargers and Patriots. If they couldn’t compete with the Broncos, what would make anyone think there is any open window for victory now?
Well, if there’s anyone who should, it should be Bowles. In a not-so-literal sense, these are his quarterbacks, and he has been responsible for their development. That’s why if/when things get ugly, his seat may get a little hotter.
It’s quite obvious that quarterback play is defining of team performance in general. Just look at teams like the Packers and Broncos, who have fallen off significantly with struggling quarterback play. As developed as the Jets defense and receiving core may be, performance will suffer if the quarterback isn’t ready.
Bowles will hope that there is some signs of improvement from Petty, and possibly Hackenberg in the coming weeks. If stagnancy, or even decline is evident, the Jets will likely be taking a closer look at if bringing Bowles back beyond 2017 is the right move. It becomes even more eyeopening with the idea that the Jets will grab another young quarterback in the upcoming draft. It’s a harsh reality, but blame in this league, and in most professional sports, works from the top down. A coach’s tenure will always be reevaluated before a player is completely cut loose. Bowles should be nervous because he needs this team to show up. Not only to prove their own worth, but his as well.