Todd Bowles Should Not Be Fired
In many a Jets fan website, hotheads are clamoring for the head of NY Jets HC Todd Bowles. Fire him they insist and point out his coaching errors (not going for a fourth down here or a two-point conversion there, sticking to Ryan Fitzpatrick way past his expiration date, etc., etc.); and they darkly insinuate that he has lost the team (I am still waiting for conclusive evidence on this one).
However, firing Bowles would be a huge mistake in my book.
Now, I am not denying that the 2016 NY Jets are an awful team, one of the worst in the NFL. We struggled against the (still) winless Browns and had to go to OT to defeat the 49ers who last won in the season opener. This assessment will stand even in the unlikely occasion that we pick up one or more additional victories against the Buffalo Bills who are in turmoil with the rumored expected firing of Rex Ryan, the Miami Dolphins who probably had their QB Ryan Tannehill suffer a torn ACL or the indifferent New England Patriots who will have clinched the division (again) when they play us.
Still, Bowles should not be fired. Not because such an action would make us the Browns — after all Cleveland will choose first in the NFL Draft and have a bucket load of picks — the Jets won’t. Nor because Florham Park will become an unattractive destination for head coaching talent. A giant salary, the nation’s largest media market and the world’s greatest city can work wonders; not to mention that starting with low expectations can be advantageous to a great coaching mind (when Vince Lombardi went to Green Bay, the Packers were something of a joke).
Bowles should not be fired for the following reasons:
First, the need for stability. The team is in rebuilding mode, whether we like it or not (we don’t). Last season was a delight but in reality amounted to a mere tease. No one can really evaluate an HC or a GM like Mike Maccagnan after some 18 months (John Idzik was a special case of useless, the exception that proves the rule).
Second, mitigating circumstances exist for this year’s debacle. We had one of the toughest schedules in the League. Eric Decker’s injury was a huge blow; Sheldon Richardson decided that he prefers to act like an immature idiot at times; Mohammed Wilkerson took it too easy after becoming the 86-million-dollar man (and probably had some health issues as well); and Darrelle Revis decided to effectively retire while the season was still underway (though his wrist injury, too many concussions for comfort and age should also be taken into account).
Third, panic is a bad counsel. The fan base is furious. Personally, I am livid. Firing Bowles will mollify the masses for a news cycle — maybe two. Then what?
Fourth, Bowles is well respected throughout the League. This is not to be underestimated. He is respected by NFL professionals who make their living out of football, as opposed to the assortment of Sunday know-alls Monday morning QBs, fair weather NY Jet supporters and sunshine cheerleaders. Give the man a chance!
Which is not to say that the team’s bums should not be fired. Assistant coaches and coordinators have failed to make any adjustments during games or correct persistent mistakes. They had their chances. Woody please throw them out, send them Idzik’s way and restore accountability to the organization; and the same applies to overpaid veterans with no fire left in the belly who are an affront to our sense of how football should be played.
So let us all take, at least, a medium-term perspective. Hard as it is to believe, Tom Brady’s career is in its sunset years; Christian Hackenberg has been given a red shirt year and we will find out what we have in him; we are already finding out more about Bryce Petty; Maccacgnan seems to draft well; Woody Johnson is not cheap and does care; veterans, immature young players and coaching staff (not to mention Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith) should be departing the Jets in the next few months. But let us give Bowles another chance and be patient. We are Jets fans after all.