After a pathetic showing in a 41-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, many Jets fans and members of the media in the greater New York City area are calling for the firing of second-year head coach Todd Bowles. It’s hard to find a problem with their desire to see him leave, as the Jets have vastly underperformed in Bowles’ second season at the helm. The Jets, a team that just missed out on a playoff spot in Week 17 of last season, is now at 3-9 and have had issues on both sides of the ball this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league after catching what now can be officially said as lightning in a bottle last year, but remained a starter as long as the Jets were mathematically alive. The defensive line, a presumed strength of the team before the season began, has been awful, tallying the second-least number of sacks this season, barely beating out the Cleveland Browns. The team took major steps backward this season and, although I believe Bowles needs to leave, he won’t.
The problem with those in the head coaching position for the Jets for the past eight years or so have been the fact that they’re defensive-minded coaches. Both Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles were both defensive coordinators before becoming head coaches for the Jets, and it was even more apparent when looking at the terrible quarterback play that ensued or continues to ensue during their coaching tenures in New York. Fitzpatrick had one solid year and has been in the middle of some quarterback controversy with both backups Geno Smith and Bryce Petty. Bowles hasn’t been very consistent when it comes to decisions on quarterback this season, often going against starting Petty who actually has a future with the team when compared to Fitzpatrick. His mishandling on quarterbacks says one thing: The Jets need to part ways with Bowles and hire and offensive-minded coach who has knowledge of how to use his quarterbacks as well as how to develop them. The last offensive-minded coach for the Jets was Eric Mangini. The last good quarterback the Jets had was Chad Pennington, who played under Mangini and did fairly well. If the Jets want to be a contender in this league, they need a good quarterback and a good offense. That starts with hiring a coach with the experience and ability to spot good quarterbacks in the draft or free agent classes and develop them. That’s why Todd Bowles should go, but here’s why he won’t.
If you were applying for a position at a company but learned that five guys have been hired and fired from that position in the last two year, would you still want that job? Probably not, because it shows that the superiors in the company don’t give their employees much of a chance to succeed and put excess pressure on their workers even before they begin their first day on the job. This is comparable to the situation the Jets find themselves in at the moment, where firing Todd Bowles after his second year could send the wrong message to other coaching prospects. It would show that the organization doesn’t hesitate to fire their coaches, but also that it doesn’t give their coaches a chance to establish themselves and make mistakes. Call it crazy, but coaches like to have some room to breathe during the season and to know that their front office supports them no matter what. Nothing puts more pressure on a coach than to know that he could be on the hot seat after on bad year, and that pressure only leads to more stress and poor decisions during games.
Although I believe Bowles should be fired, especially since he obviously has lost his team after the poor effort they exhibited on national television, he won’t be. He’ll get one more year to prove himself, and I think that the Jets’ decision to keep him will send a message to other coaches that this is a job where they don’t have to worry about getting fired after one year. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jets lay off Bowles, but then they shouldn’t be surprised when coaches don’t come knocking down the door to get a chance to coach their team.