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Fate of Jets leadership will be determined by end of season

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets is hugged by General Manager Mike Maccagnan after defeating the Cleveland Browns 31-10 for his first win as a head coach at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets is hugged by General Manager Mike Maccagnan after defeating the Cleveland Browns 31-10 for his first win as a head coach at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) /
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The time is now for the tandem of New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles to show signs of progression. They can’t afford another losing season.

One of the more intriguing under-the-radar storylines of the upcoming season will be whether the tandem of general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles can survive if success eludes the New York Jets in 2018.

Before delving into the discussion, first, one must define “success.” This, of course, is difficult to do because success can be measured in so many ways. But it’s worth considering a few possibilities.For instance, one scenario is the Jets win the Super Bowl. Is it that a success? Uh, yes, absolutely. Is that outcome likely? No. How about the playoffs? Yup, if the Jets make the playoffs this year, no doubt, the season would be considered a success.

How about Jets win 8 games, but don’t make the playoffs? Hmmm…not as clear, but winning 8 games in a season is decent, particularly when the last two years the Jets have only won 5 games each.

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How about if the Jets win only 6 games, and Sam Darnold throws somewhere between 2,500-3,000 yards? Sure. While 6 wins isn’t much to boast about, I think Jets fans would be more pleased about Darnold’s development than the team’s final record.

But what if the Jets only win somewhere between 2 and 5 games? Well, in that case, real doubts about the direction of the team would rear its ugly head, and would no doubt call into question whether the Bowles-Maccagnan regime could survive another season. This would be the scenario even if Darnold has a decent rookie season.

So with all that said, I think if Jets can get to 6 wins and Darnold clearly shows he’s the future of the franchise, Bowles and Maccagnan should be back for another season.

For those thinking to themselves right now, why in the world am I predicting gloom and doom when the season hasn’t even started yet? I would answer, first of all, I’m a Jets fan, so our inclinations are to think the worst, that’s just our nature. Second, I was not impressed by the team’s preseason performance as I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Most alarming was the lack of focus, discipline, poor special teams, and the penalties. I also have concerns about depth and the team’s most glaring weakness, the offensive line. These are problems that cannot be fixed overnight, nor do they magically disappear once the season starts. So let’s just say that I have real doubts about the Jets inability to correct these problems.Finally, I’ve learned a long time ago that wishful thinking about the Jets doesn’t work. To do a true assessment requires setting aside my own bias.

For the purposes of this discussion, then, let’s assume for a moment that the Jets win somewhere between 2 and 5 games. I certainly hope that isn’t how things turn out, but if it does, then the essential question will be, who gets the blame? And this gets to the root of what I alluded to at the beginning. That is, if the team stinks, then we could see the beginning of the end of the Bowles-Maccagnan tandem.

But what if the basic assumption that Bowles and Maccagnan are a package deal is not correct? This is where things can get real interesting. Bottom line, the answer lies in how expectations are managed.

So if the general manager (and owner) honestly believes the Jets should compete for the playoffs this year and they fall way short of that goal, then the blame will obviously be placed on Bowles and his coaching staff. Same deal if Darnold doesn’t develop as planned. Would Maccagnan fire Bowles in that instance?

Conversely, if Bowles does a masterful job of somehow managing to get 5 wins out of a team that is obviously lacking talent up and down the roster, then the blame should fall with the general manager. Would the owner fire Maccagnan and keep Bowles? It should be noted that after three drafts, Maccagnan’s body of work is now front and center in focus.

Quite frankly, his drafts haven’t been all that great. Yes, the first round has been kind to him, and much is riding on Darnold this year, but for someone who is considered drafting football players as one of his strengths, he needs a home run this year with his most recent draft picks. Nathan Shepherd, Chris Herndon, and Parry Nickerson, in particular, need to be more than just role players. They must make an impact—the sooner the better.

Related Story. Why the Jets can be a playoff team in 2018

I’ll end the discussion here because I just wanted to introduce the topic for Jets fans. The fate of Bowles, Maccagnan, or perhaps both—assuming they are a package deal—will be something to keep a close eye on throughout the entire season. Especially if the Jets struggle in the beginning. Just ask yourself this question: Is it bad coaching or not enough talent that prevents the Jets from winning a Super Bowl for the 50th year in a row? Right now the answer is difficult to assess, but by year’s end, the picture should be much clearer.

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