The suspense is over, the Jets are bringing back Todd Bowles as their head coach.
On Friday afternoon, the team announced that Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will both receive contract extensions.
“We are very happy to have extended both Mike and Todd. During their time here, they have worked together to help the organization build a foundation on which to grow,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said. “They are identifying, developing, and getting productivity out of our players. I believe we are headed in the right direction. This provides us continuity and stability as we continue to move this team towards sustained success. We still have a lot of work to do and I am excited to work closely with both of them as we move forward.”
Bowles and Maccagnan both reportedly received two-year extensions, this means they’re under contract through 2020. It’s a major statement by the Jets which was doubled-down by Mr. Johnson in his statement.
There were two keywords in Mr. Johnson’s statement, continuity and stability. The Jets came into this season clearly in the beginning stages of a massive rebuild. It’s important for any franchise early on to identify who’s able to lead and develop talent during this time.
This was an aging team clearly in need of a roster makeover and attitude adjustment. Last offseason, Maccagnan cut ties with key veterans and Bowles began to implement a much-needed culture change for the team’s future. Through the draft and creative moves on the trade market the Jets transformed into a young team with an emphasis on player development.
Rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, along with Leonard Williams have emerged as young leaders on the defense. Meanwhile, wide receiver Robby Anderson stepped up and became the team’s top playmaker on offense.
Maccagnan went out and signed Josh McCown to bring stability to the quarterback position. The 38-year old journeyman did much more than that, he put together one of the best statistical seasons of his career. McCown also won over the locker room with his leadership and toughness.
Bowles, with his no-nonsense approach to the game, is also well-respected by his players in the locker room, especially the youngsters. He’s not the robot he may come across as in the press conferences, if you look long enough, there’s a very engaging sense of humor which revels itself on occasion.
For players, like Adams and Maye, still developing, the upside to bringing back Bowles is strong. They respect him and have bought-in to his message.
It’s important to remember, with the Jets, this was team many picked to go winless this season. There have been growing pains, as expected, but there’s also been an increasing feeling this leadership group knows what they’re doing.
The Jets will head into a crucial offseason, they definitely still have a lot of work to do. They’ll have financial flexibility to make roster moves. The Jets will also have three picks in the first two rounds of the 2018 draft. Decisions will need to be made on a quarterback for the future.
Maccagnan, since being hired in January of 2015, has done plenty of heavy lifting to get the Jets into this position to turn the corner. They’re now banking on those arms being strong enough for the next round of heavy lifting.
The team is 5-10 on the season and they’ll miss the playoffs for a seventh consecutive year. But this year was never about making the playoffs for the Jets, it was about instilling belief that they’re heading in the right direction as a franchise.
Bowles and Maccagnan did enough this season to show they’re ready for the remaining challenges ahead.