Well, if Jets head coach Todd Bowles was on thin ice coming into this week, he’s certainly crashed through the surface now.
Coming into the week with his job on the line, Bowles couldn’t have asked for a better matchup. New York was facing a Bills squad that, over its last six games, had averaged 7.7 points per contest. And if that wasn’t enough, against the Jets, Buffalo was forced into starting its fourth quarterback of the season in Matt Barkley, who had previously thrown 18 interceptions to 8 touchdowns in his career, hadn’t played an NFL snap since New Year’s Day in 2017, and had signed with Buffalo less than two weeks earlier. Yeah, the Jets also had to start their backup in Josh McCown, but McCown, unlike the Bills starting QB, has actually proved to be an NFL-level QB and is familiar with his team’s offense. The Bills are abysmal, and the Jets were playing them at home.
So of course, the Bills scored more points in one half against the Jets than they had in any game all season long. When it was all said and done, the Bills shellacked the Jets 41-10. The game was out of reach well before halftime; Buffalo ripped off the first 31 points of the game. Here’s how it felt for Jets fans in the stadium:
And wake me up when it's all over pic.twitter.com/xXIVX74Sg3— The Ringer (@ringer) November 11, 2018
After three and a half seasons and a 23-35 record with Bowles, it’s probably time for the now 3-7 Jets to start looking for a new coach to helm the franchise moving forward. Because while no one should lose their job after one game, this one was a reckoning: It wasn’t just that the Jets lost to the Bills, it’s that they did so in such deeply embarrassing fashion.
Let's see, the Jets ... got burned on a fake punt. Allowed a TD on a tackle-eligible. Got called for three holding penalties on the same play. What next? #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 11, 2018
The Jets had 199 total yards, averaged 3.6 per play, picked up just 12 first downs, and turned the ball over twice. They had one touchdown. Meanwhile, the Bills racked up 451 yards, which passed their previous season high by more than 100 yards. They had four offensive touchdowns, which was one more than their previous season high. Buffalo averaged 6.2 yards per play, picked up 23 first downs, controlled the ball for more than 39 minutes, and didn’t turn the ball over. It was an annihilation and was easily Buffalo’s best performance of the season—even better than their 27-6 win over the Vikings in Week 3.
The Jets’ performance was particularly embarrassing considering Bowles, a former NFL safety, has a background in defense, where the Jets have been decent this season (they came into the week ranked seventh in defensive DVOA). That New York’s defense was so thoroughly destroyed by an offense that is normally abysmal should be clarifying for the future of the franchise: The Jets need an offensively minded head coach moving forward. Just looking at how Doug Pederson, Sean McVay, Andy Reid, and Matt Nagy have made the most of their young QBs should make it obvious that scheme is as important as anything when working with a young passer—one who is on an ultra-cheap contract—and trying to get him up to speed as quickly as possible. Bowles and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates have led Sam Darnold to an up-and-down season, which wouldn’t be too much of a cause for concern given that he’s a rookie, but if the team’s defense also can’t slow down what may be the worst offense in history, then there is virtually no reason to stick with Bowles.
When Bowles inevitably gets fired—whether that’s over this upcoming bye week or at the season’s end—Jets fans will celebrate. But coach firings should be more bittersweet events— they often represent new hope for long-suffering fans, but people are still losing their jobs. With Bowles will go an entire staff of coaches and assistants who don’t have multimillion-dollar contracts to fall back on.
We can pour one out for Bowles and everyone under his employ. Because for the Jets to move forward, it’s time to clean house.