As the New York Jets play out the remainder of the 2017 season, the speculation regarding head coach Todd Bowles job status returns as the team will once again miss the playoffs. There are some in the media stating that the Jets’ 3 remaining games are an audition for Coach Bowles. There is another notion among fans that this rebuilding season played out as expected and that Gang Green’s coach has already earned the right to return in 2018.
Well, in my opinion you need to decipher through the nonsense and facts prior to forming an opinion on the Jets leader.
“Only supposed to win 1-2 games this season” – Yes, the expectations were set very low for the Jets this season as everyone considered the team to be one of the worst in football. The thought of playoffs was laughable and the majority was just hoping that Gang Green would not get blown out on a weekly basis. The one thing about expectations is that they change as the season plays out.
The Jets earned their second win, the supposed total for the entire year, in week 4 of the season. Does that mean that the Jets had a successful season and can hand out awards for exceeding expectations? That answer is obviously no, because the expectations for the team increased with improved play from a variety of players.
“The team is playing hard for the coach” – It has been quite enjoyable watching this Jets team play with passion and pride, which is a succinct change from last season. While many are giving Coach Bowles credit for this change in team effort it would be foolish to ignore the roster moves that were made that also spurred life into the organization. The Jets moved on from players that were either on the decline or a problem in the locker room and replaced them with hungry, motivated guys that love the game of football. The infusion of youth, along with guys that are playing for their next contract goes a long way when it comes to improved performance on the field. Yes, Bowles had to get players to buy into his system, but a good portion of this group had their own motivation.
“The team has been competitive in every game” – Well for starters this is not entirely true as the games versus Tampa Bay and Denver, important match-ups at the time against lesser teams, were arguably some of the worst performances that we have ever seen. Secondly, since when do we give credit for teams playing competitive every week? Isn’t this similar to a participation trophy? Isn’t the goal of the game to win? (think Herman Edwards). Instead of focusing on the team “showing up each week” why not take a look at the reasons that the team repeatedly fell apart in the second half of games? Why not analyze the fact that the Jets can rarely win on the road ever since Todd Bowles has become head coach? Why not realize the fact that the Jets could have easily been in the playoff mix this season if they truly played to their potential?
Let’s face it, this team has more talent than most expected which eliminates some of the built in excuses that were established heading into the season.
The Bottom Line
The biggest problem with evaluating Todd Bowles is that most compare this season to 2016 instead of looking at the big picture. Yes, this team is night and day better than last year’s version but that is not really saying a lot. Last year’s team was truly dysfunctional on and off the field and QUIT. There was a true lack of leadership in and out of the locker room and the game day/roster management was troubling.
In terms of Coach Bowles how much different is his performance this year, from his first two seasons? In year 3 the Jets coach still struggles when it comes to handling veteran players that are not meeting team expectations on or off the field. Bowles is ridiculously loyal to his players, almost to a fault, and it sends the wrong message. Mo Wilkerson is the perfect example of this.. or Darrelle Revis..or Ryan Fitzpatrick..or Brandon Marshall. You can make a very strong case that Bowles should have pulled Josh McCown last week prior to his season ending injury as it was obvious he was playing in pain. Sometimes you have to save the player from himself.
When it comes to game and clock management Todd Bowles remains a work in progress. Far too often Bowles lacks situational awareness and appears to be in over his head when the heat is on. Todd’s handling of timeouts has become maddening and the punt first approach in gray area situations is nauseating. Bowles almost needs to hire a game manager, but then again that is what the head coach is supposed to be.
How many times this season did you walk away from the game feeling that the New York Jets staff outcoached their opponent? what about last year? Bowles first year? How many times did you see obvious halftime adjustments that confused the opposition?
If we are being honest Todd Bowles is making some of the same mistakes this year, as he has the last two seasons. How many more chances does he get? Furthermore do you feel like Todd Bowles is the head coach that can lead your favorite team to the Super Bowl? Do you feel comfortable handing Todd Bowles an elite young quarterback prospect from this year’s draft? The answer to these questions should determine Todd Bowles future.