It was rainy outside with dark clouds all around, the weather matching the gloom inside the press room at the Jets training facility in Florham Park, N.J., where Todd Bowles was holding probably the last post-practice press conference of his tenure as Jets head coach.
Bowles, a good man who has been nothing but professional, is expected to be fired soon after the Jets play the Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., in the regular-season finale for both teams. New England, winner of the AFC East for the 10th straight time, will go on to the playoffs, while Bowles likely will be shown the door after four seasons as the Jets’ head coach. That was the elephant in the room on a rainy Friday.
With the Jets 4-11 on the season, beating the Patriots likely won’t make a difference. It would be a third straight 5-11 finish for Bowles after going 10-6 his rookie year in 2015 when the Jets lost the final game at Buffalo when a win would have put them in the playoffs.
A loss at New England and the Jets would be 24-50 under Bowles, who on Friday sounded like a man who has accepted his fate. When asked how he would assess his performance this season, Bowles said simply, “the record says it all.”
Quincy Enunwa signs four-year deal as Jets clarify their future
Days before an uncertain offseason officially begins, the Jets locked…
At that moment it felt more like a wake than a press conference as Bowles headed for the exit carrying the elephant with him. A Super Bowl champion with the Redskins and highly respected as a coach, Bowles has always been a straight shooter. Earlier, when asked why the Jets have lost eight of their past nine games, he said, “We didn’t score enough points and didn’t make enough plays at the end.”
It’s funny, but the dark clouds surrounding Bowles are in contrast to the narrative in the locker room, where many of the players expressed optimism about the Jets’ future even if it likely won’t include Bowles.
Safety Jamal Adams was thanking his mom and his teammates for being voted as the Jets MVP for the year, and offered this: “Right now we’re going through a storm, but the sun will shine sooner or later.”
A few minutes later receiver Quincy Enunwa announced he had signed an extension. The four-year deal worth $36 million ensures Enunwa will be part of Sam Darnold’s immediate future. The fact Enunwa’s agreement came amid the threat of a coaching change is telling.
“I’m excited for the future,” he said. “Me and Sam had a good relationship and I’m looking forward to continuing that.”
Interestingly, Bowles will be fired after a year in which the Jets’ primary objective — developing Darnold into a promising franchise quarterback — was met. The work will be completed by someone else, but Bowles should get credit for starting the process.
“It’s a solid first year of learning for him and a first year of growing,” veteran quarterback Josh McCown said of Darnold. “It means the future is bright.”
The record actually doesn’t say it all. Darnold’s development in a strange way makes the year a success.
“I don’t know how you could see it any other way,” McCown said. “[Darnold] started out of the gate pretty solid, had some struggles and then responded. That’s playing this position. The guys that play this position at a high level for a long time are the ones that can go through a struggle and get back and grow. I think this year kind of encapsulated that for Sam.”
A rookie quarterback proved to be the least of Bowles’ problems. Brutal losses to the Browns and Bills and a six-game losing streak after starting 3-3 can’t be ignored.
Bowles won’t be out of work long. If he doesn’t land another head coaching gig, he’ll likely return to being one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL.
For a coach who wasn’t very quotable, his last practice with the Jets will always be remembered for his final words: “The record says it all.”
If only it were that simple.