Credit needs to be given where credit is due. Head coach Todd Bowles has turned the New York Jets into an organization that plays with heart, passion, and is establishing a team-oriented foundation for a bright future.
As the New York Jets trended downward to 5-11 in 2016 after a surprise 10-6 season the season prior, one hot-button issue that emerged was the job security of head coach Todd Bowles. Many saw Bowles as the scapegoat and were calling for his job.
Throughout the duration of this past offseason, a number of personnel decisions surfaced where it became increasingly evident that the franchise pressed the reset button, packed it in for 2017 and was going all in for 2018 and beyond. While some of the suits in the front office feel that way, that feeling does not trickle down to the coaching staff and the players. They come into each game hungry and determined to win.
As far back as May, Jets owner Woody Johnson even said in an article written by Andy Vasquez of USA Today that this season for the Jets should not be judged on winning and losing. Mr. Johnson said in that article:
“Really, the way I want to be judged, hopefully from the fans’ standpoint, is just watch how we improve during the year.”
In a season where they moved on from numerous veterans, a youth movement is now being given the chance to thrive. We said goodbye to veterans who carried this team, some who will certainly be inducted into the Ring of Honor one day, but this season will be the catalyst to find a young nucleus. This season we can look to find leaders who we hope can remain with the team long after the season ends, hopefully as far as 2020 and beyond.
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Being that the expectation amongst many circles was that this team was going to bottom out, tank and lose the majority of games this season, the easiest thing for this current team to do would be to have no heart and just pick up their paychecks. That is not what we are seeing so far.
Coming off a poor 0-2 start this year, Bowles has always preached that the Jets have a lot of fight in them. At that particular juncture, the team could have very easily been demoralized and could have packed it in, especially with all the negativity (justified or otherwise) that has been swirling for months. The team heeded Bowles’ call and proceeded to win three games in a row before dropping the last two divisional tilts against New England and Miami, respectively.
You will get no argument from me that Bowles certainly has to improve in some aspects, certainly as it pertains to game management and retaining members of his staff that arguably should not be there, but we are seeing him evolve as a coach. The Jets have not been getting anywhere with a consistent revolving door of coordinators turned head coaches. For once they are trying a new approach, and we will see if it pays off.
Last season in Foxboro when there was absolutely nothing to play for, Bowles was hospitalized on a Friday afternoon and did not initially travel to New England with the team, with doubts on whether he would be available to coach. Bowles was on the sideline less than 24 hours later.
The Jets should take the ride with Bowles for at least the short term. Even with a losing record, the team is still showing that they will play hard for him. With the Jets looking at finding the quarterback of the future and roughly $80 million in cap space looming this offseason, Bowles deserves an opportunity to be involved in (hopefully) the Jets turning the corner in 2018 and beyond.