Todd Bowles is off the hot seat for now
By William Cochrane
At one point head coach Todd Bowles was on the hot seat but after the first five games of the regular season, he’s making his case to continue what he started.
Through five NFL games, New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles has his players playing with fire and emotion. Gang Green’s locker room is no longer the scene of disgruntled players. The coach who is in the third year of a four year deal was under fire for what happened with last year’s Jets squad. The question coming into the 2017 NFL season was if he was the head coach the Jets should continue with or should he be fired? Through five games, let’s examine that here.
Entering the regular season, Bowles position as head coach was in question. After an appalling 2016 season, the Jets played pretty bad. The absence of the player’s effort was nowhere to be found. There was no evidence of a team leader. Muhammad Wilkerson, who had been a team leader since the day he was drafted admitted being late to multiple team meetings as did defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson who was likewise late to meetings. Richardson has since been traded, but these are a portion of the numerous incidents that went on with the players that raised the debatable talk on if Bowles had lost his players. Players being unprofessional and honestly not caring the slightest bit.
Regardless of how much some think it wasn’t all Bowles’ fault, he is, in fact, the head coach. It is his duty to keep his players motivated and focused on football throughout the season. We will give him the benefit of the doubt, as he was only in his second year as a head coach.
That all needed to change this year. During the offseason, the team was basically dismantled. The Jets had decided to rebuild and free themselves of their older players. Clear some cap space and start fresh. The Jets roster had been drastically dismantled so much that it looked as if they did it in order for the team to land the number one pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. A draft which is being said to be one of the best quarterback classes to come out in years. The Jets have been without a franchise quarterback for many years and could surely utilize one.
Starting the season, the new younger version of the Jets faced off against another team who had also stripped their roster down, the Buffalo Bills. This seemed like a team the Jets could probably beat. However, the Bills easily handled the Jets and handed them their first loss of the season. Week 2 was undoubtedly a game they had no chance of winning versus an explosive Oakland Raiders team.
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But something happened during that game in Oakland that had totally changed the team’s attitude. It happened at halftime, the Jets were down 21-10 and got together as a team in the locker room.
Courtesy of Media Relations Department of the Jets. Here is what defensive lineman Leonard Williams said took place:
“When we were in the locker room at halftime, guys were really together and were stating their messages. It’s just the belief and the confidence and the unity was there, and you could feel it,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said on a conference call. “We didn’t end up winning that game, but the feeling that we had of unity in that locker room continued to stay with us.”
Gang Green was down 21-10 to Oakland during that halftime. They went on to lose 45-20 to a very tough Raiders team. Nevertheless, what occurred in that Jets locker room at halftime. It clearly had an unquestionable positive effect on the team who had heard all the comments of them tanking.
After two losses on the road, the unified Jets were back home to face their division rivals, the Miami Dolphins. From start to finish Gang Green completely shut down their division rivals, winning 20-6. During that game, we saw a team that was playing with emotion and desire. Snatching their first win of the season.
Week 4 they faced a tough Jacksonville Jaguars team at home. The emotion and desire were still there and the Jets team grabbed themselves win number two of the season, winning in overtime. The tanking talk then came to a complete stop.
In Week 5, the team traveled to Cleveland to battle the winless Browns. It was not a pretty game for the newly focused Jets squad. What mattered though was they came away with a victory on the road, winning 17-14. Leaving Cleveland winless and all of a sudden, the team who was predicted by many to be the worst in the league is now in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East.
The desire in this team and the no-quit attitude is easily seen. Not only on the field but inside the locker room as well.
As of now, Bowles has safely avoided the hot seat and has his team giving him 100 percent every single week. Consequently, the players are no longer missing team meetings. Heck, these players make their own meetings and are staying genuinely inspired since that Oakland game. These Jets players are tightly unified, it’s a totally different team as opposed to last year’s squad.
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I, myself was not a believer in Bowles. I thought he was emphatically too low key of a coach to earn these players respect. Yet as of now, it certainly looks like I was certainly off base. Being a fan of this team for over 30 years, I can state I haven’t seen a Jets team this together playing with the enthusiasm and desire they possess since the New York Sack Exchange days. I’m not the slightest bit saying they are in the same class as that solid team we had. In any case, this team is immensely more focused than last year’s squad. Out on a mission, to prove all their doubters wrong.
Similarly, as I said earlier it’s the responsibility of the head coach to keep his team focused. Bowles has shown he is able to do exactly just that.
The Jets are playing abundantly better than last year’s team. It is evident in the stats, as they have started to create turnovers. Which is one of the key stats when it comes to winning a game. They are minus one in the turnover ratio stat. When last year they were a dismal league-worst minus 20.
Players that are making a difference include starting quarterback Josh McCown, who is completing an astonishing 71 percent of his passes. Jermaine Kearse, who came over from Seattle in the Sheldon Richardson trade is the Jets leading receiver. Even tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins who has turned his life around, came off his two-game suspension is looking like he’ll be a player to build around for the future. First-round pick Jamal Adams could very well be the best safety in the NFL for years to come.
Another good trade by general manager Mike Maccagnan was bringing back Demario Davis, who is leading the defense in total tackles and being a vocal team leader. Let me mention one more and give credit to the Jets scouts and our general manager for picking up perhaps the steal of the 2017 NFL Draft in running back Elijah McGuire, who we will see much more of this Sunday against the New England Patriots.
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There is still plenty of football to be played this season. Nonetheless, Bowles is looking like the coach that can take this team to the next level. Unless we see a complete meltdown, he so far has proved he is the coach this team needs to get to where they want to be. The discussion for the number one pick in next year’s draft has been all but squashed by the players and coaches who are focused on one thing right now and that is winning.