After a Week 9 loss to a Dolphins team similarly in search of their identity, the doubt seems to be growing about the long-term direction at One Jets Drive in Florham Park. While the on-field performance might be the subject of another roundtable, there's whispers about Todd Bowles' fitness as a head coach … especially when word leaked that Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were benched in the first quarter after reports of chronic tardiness or total no-shows to team meetings. On Friday, Bowles said that despite some uninspiring play from Ryan Fitzpatrick play there "was no QB controversy."
Brandon Marshall was asked by the press on Monday … do you still believe in Jets head coach Todd Bowles? "Absolutely," Marshall replied. "He's one of the best I've been around."
What do you think, Bent? Is Bowles getting worse? Is he the same? Is he better? Is something amiss or are these just the growing pains of a re-tooling team who was unfortunate enough to go 10-6 in their first year?
Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
It's tough because year two of any coaching regime should be the point at which the personnel starts to match up with the system you want to play and you should therefore start to see progress. However, this team seems to be going backward, and if the wheels fall off and the team ends up with five wins or fewer, you could certainly see a situation where Woody Johnson opts to start over. The 2005, 2007 and 2014 Jets all won just four games and the only coach to survive that was Eric Mangini, who was then canned 12 months later despite posting a winning record. If the season continues to spiral downward, a playoffs-or-bust ultimatum in year three might be the absolute best Bowles can hope for.
Bowles' stoic and unruffled style in the face of adversity perhaps helped the team's confidence whenever things looked bleak last year, but in this one-thing-after-another season that's started falling on deaf ears in much the same way as the words of a fiery motivator or fearsome disciplinarian would. Also being tuned out by fans, media and the rest of the team? Each and every Marshall locker room endorsement, unfortunately.
Does Bowles deserve a free pass though? His system worked last year with more or less the same personnel. How many of the issues that are causing some of his key players to underperform could he actually have done anything to prevent?
While the personnel might mostly be the same, it certainly isn't passing the smell test. Between losing Eric Decker for the season, injuries to Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis and maybe some motivational concerns for some of the players on the defensive line … there's at least an argument to be made around personnel.
I do see your point on the system. There is still a very talented group of players that are part of this system and it just hasn't worked. Couldn't a stellar tactician find a way to deploy Leonard Williams, Wilkerson AND Richardson in a more sensible way more of the time? Shouldn't a coach start learning when to go for it on "4th-and-short" situations or just make better play calls in crucial time situations like on both sides of the two-minute warning in last week's game?
I can deal with it if I see he's learning … but is he learning and getting better as a head coach?
Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
He's learning, no doubt about it ... because you learn from your mistakes. However, the overwhelming abundance of such "learning experiences" this season is going to be difficult to overcome.
If Bowles can't recover from this, you know the next hire will be someone who is a polar opposite because the Jets have always had a tendency to overreact by attributing a coach's failings to the type of coach he is. Rather than just getting a better coach, they'll assume Bowles failed because he lacked experience and hire someone like Norv Turner or Tom Coughlin - or because he was too laid-back so they'll hire a Doug Marrone or Les Miles. I don't think any of those names will excite Jets fans, though. Maybe Bowles' best chance of turning his Jets tenure around is to reinvent himself so he takes on some of these characteristics he's perceived to lack.
I'm with you that the Jets would be wise to stick through it a little longer and even if they don't … the owner needs to stop running to the opposite side of the seesaw every time things get off balance.
It sure helped Ron Rivera, right?? Old dogs can learn new tricks. A little guile and boldness couldn't hurt Bowles though at this point … even if it is just to experiment in a playoff-less laboratory. I guess it also helped that Riverboat Ron had a generational talent at quarterback. Let's just hope it doesn't come to hiring a re-re-retread like Turner. Maybe inserting a player like Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg would force the Jets to get inventive. I guess we've got to hope in something …