Lichtenstein: With Jets On Bye Week, Bowles Must Go

Jets coach Todd Bowles
Photo credit USA TODAY Images

At halftime of the Jets’ deplorable 41-10 loss to the lowly Bills on Sunday, coach Todd Bowles should have just sprinted down the tunnel and then continued straight toward the MetLife Stadium exit to the Uber stand.

It was certainly very obvious to Jets fans that Bowles’ team quit on him during a 31-3 debacle of a first half. Gang Green didn’t record a first down until their fifth possession and were outgained, 313-68, in the opening 30 minutes.

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The Bills had a player retire at halftime of a game earlier this season when cornerback Vontae Davis concluded he could no longer hack it in the NFL, so why can’t a coach?

Since Bowles wasn’t as self-aware, Jets management needs to show him the door. 

With New York limping into their bye week at 3-7 and on a four-game losing streak, this is the time to do it. Jets owner Christopher Johnson, when confronted by reporters following the rout, refused to comment on Bowles’ status.

“I don’t worry about my job,” Bowles said in his postgame press conference.

Games like these, getting pummeled at home to a 2-7 squad featuring Matt Barkley, the Bills’ FOURTH-STRING QB making his first start since 2016, get coaches fired. Despite coming in as seven-point favorites, the Jets looked totally unprepared from the get-go.

On Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage, Barkley found Robert Foster, an undrafted rookie recently called up from the Bills’ practice squad, for 47 yards, toasting the Jets $72 million cornerback Trumaine Johnson in his return from a quad injury that cost him five games.

LeSean McCoy, who accumulated a grand total of 24 yards rushing on 24 carries combined in the Bills’ previous three games, scored the first of his two first-half touchdowns on the ensuing play from 28 yards out.

Way to come out ready to play.

Also in the first half, the Bills executed a fake punt for a first down and scored one touchdown after fumbling the ball into the end zone and another on a pass to an eligible lineman.

Jets Crushed By Bills 41-10, Lose 4th Straight Game

The Jets?  Well, at least no one can blame Sam Darnold for this mess. With the rookie quarterback sidelined with a foot injury, 39-year old backup Josh McCown fared just as poorly.  The Jets’ horrible line and absence of weapons at the skill positions made the Bills’ defense look like the ‘85 Bears.

McCown and the Jets padded their stats a bit in the second half, even breaking a 22-possession touchdown drought early in the third quarter. But the Bills, like most opponents, were thoroughly prepared for everything unimaginative offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates looked to do, from the second-and-long runs to the third-down wide receiver screens to Quincy Enunwa.

Bates is Exhibit A as to why the Jets need to sever ties with Bowles sooner rather than later. Bowles has yet to put together a decent staff.  Bates, the Jets’ third OC in as many years, hadn’t called plays since 2010 for a fairly anemic Seattle club.

Then there’s Bowles’ lousy clock and game management decisions, his failure to command player discipline on and off the field, and, like on Sunday, all the times where the Jets inexplicably came out flat in games they had opportunities to win.

Bowles was granted an extension after last season until the conclusion of 2020, but it was supposedly understood that his job security depended on the Jets showing improvement this season after back-to-back 5-11 campaigns. 

This season’s regression should end all doubt about his coaching competence. I’d like to say this team looks more inept than ever, but, hey, this is the Jets.  Sure, their three holding flags on one play on Sunday was something I’ve never seen before, but this is a franchise that made famous such malaprops as “Butt Fumble”, “Fake Spike” and “Shovel Pass.”

Instead, let’s just agree that they’re going in the wrong direction, and it has little to do with playing a rookie quarterback.

The Jets would be breaking tradition by firing their head coach in the middle of a season, but why prolong the agony? The players may pledge undying loyalty to Bowles in public, but their recent performances on the field suggest otherwise. This is a young team that needs a lesson in accountability. 

Bring in an interim coach to ride out the season and then recruit a permanent replacement in January. Unlike previous coaching searches, this one has a potential franchise quarterback attached to it.  Combine it with a likely top-ten (most likely much better) first-round draft pick and a reported $109 million in salary cap space that general manager Mike Maccagnan has pledged to utilize, and this job isn’t that unattractive.  

It’s too soon to speculate who will be available, but as I’ve noted in prior posts, the Jets new coach should have a bent toward modern NFL offense. Enough with the coaches with defense backgrounds.

Enough with Bowles.

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1