Todd Bowles cannot survive this.
Not after another humiliating defeat. Not after his New York Jets showed no fight in front of their home fans. Not after those same players admitted they “laid down” after getting “smacked” by the hapless, seemingly hopeless Buffalo Bills. Not after his defense allowed Matt Barkley — a middling, retread journeyman who hadn’t thrown an NFL pass in two years — to come into their stadium and embarrass them for 60 minutes.
Bowles is finished here. He has to be.
At 3-7, the Jets’ 2018 season is unofficially done. And with a 23-35 record during his tenure, Bowles’ time as their coach is all but over too.
The visceral, emotional response of a frustrated Jets fan base was clear on social media and in living rooms across the Tri-State area: Fire him now, they shrieked as Sunday’s 41-10 loss dragged on. Fire him at halftime. Fire him before the bye week begins. Just get him out of here.
But the timing of Bowles’ dismissal is immaterial now. The damage has been done.
He has failed to consistently improve his teams year after year. Worse, he inspires little confidence that he can develop his rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
He is a goner. Plain and simple.
“I don’t worry about my job,” Bowles said postgame. “I don’t talk about my job. I just try and get to the next game. It’s a business when you sign up for it.”
Something is broken within the Jets’ building. And it goes beyond their inept performance against a Bills team that had previously won only two games and were dead-last in points scored when they arrived at MetLife Stadium.
Bowles was lauded as a great defensive mind and a stiff disciplinarian when he was hired in January 2015. But during his time with the Jets, he has yet to yield a top-five defense — despite having an uber-talented defensive line with Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Muhammad Wilkerson — and his teams have shown little discipline on the field and little heart when it matters most.
On too many occasions over the past four years, the Jets have played listless, uninspired football, and have struggled to pinpoint why they so often come out flat. And Sunday was one more example.
“We got our ass kicked,” safety Jamal Adams said after the Bills scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and five TDs in their first eight drives. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s defense held the Jets to 199 total yards, marking the first time the team has held its opponent to 200 or less yards in consecutive games since 1999.
The Bills, themselves, had been an embarrassment for weeks, carelessly trotting out Nathan Peterman week after week without any consideration for his lack of skills, his confidence and our eyesight. But all it took was one game against these Jets for Buffalo’s offense to come alive and for LeSean McCoy to break out for 113 rushing yards after averaging only 33.4 rushing yards per game over his previous eight games.
“That’s the first time I felt like somebody really smacked us and we didn’t do nothing about it,” said cornerback Morris Claiborne.
But, naturally, Jets players reiterated their faith in Bowles.
“I always believe in all my guys and I believe in [Coach Bowles] as well,” Williams said.
Stressed Adams: “Again, T. Bowles is not the problem. I’m going to ride with T. Bowles until the end. I don’t care what the fans say. I’m going to support my coach through thick and thin.”
Not too long ago, similar sentiments were expressed in that same locker room supporting Rex Ryan.
Bowles was brought in to restore respectability and a winning culture. But his teams have been no better, and this franchise once again is in search of an identity.
After years of taking the field with Geno Smith, Bryce Petty or Ryan Fitzpatrick (Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick of general manager Mike Maccagnan, never started a game for the Jets), New York has a young, franchise quarterback it believes it can build around.
But the recent regression of Darnold is concerning.
Can the Jets trust Bowles with their most precious possession?
Why should they?
He hasn’t developed any of his other players to this point.
Coaching matters in the NFL — just look at the New England Patriots, the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs as proof. And the Jets are nowhere near being a juggernaut in their own division, let alone a Super Bowl contender.
If last week’s loss to Miami was the type of game that could get a coach fired, Sunday’s embarrassment against Buffalo all but delivered the pink slip to Bowles’ front door.
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