NY Sports Day
Anthony Rushing

Rushing: The Todd Bowles Era Comes Down To Six Games

David Pokress/NYSD

Todd Bowles has been around the game long enough to know it’s not always where you start but how you finish. He’s also been around long enough to know his time as Jets’ head coach could soon be coming to an end.

This season was supposed to be the turning point for the Jets in their rebuild. They weren’t realistically going to compete for a Super Bowl, but there was hope they finally were pointed in the right direction.

But rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has regressed in recent weeks. The defense, the strength of the team, has been wildly inconsistent. Bowles, the disciplinarian, has been unable to get his team to stop committing costly penalties.

This has all occurred under the watch of Todd Bowles. For all these transgressions, he will likely pay with his job.

The Jets are 3-7, have lost four in a row, and are about to miss the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year. Bowles is coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons, he’s on pace for another one. The end is near and it will take a miracle to change that.

Meanwhile, there’s the reality of the present. There’s still six games left in the Jets’ season and their current head coach still has a job to do.

The Jets have had two weeks away to cleanse their minds of the 41-10 beating they took from the Buffalo Bills. They showed no fight in that game, it was over before it started. In what’s supposed to be a team game, the Jets resembled a group of individuals that quit on everyone, including themselves.

If this is the last lap for Bowles, it starts with their preparation for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. The Jets will face New England twice in their final six games of 2018. The first will be this Sunday, at MetLife Stadium.

The challenge for Bowles isn’t how to go about saving his job; the numbers indicate that flight has already departed. Instead, there’s a bigger picture involved here for him. It’s about how he wants to finish his time with the Jets.

 “Morale is up,” Bowles said this week. We lost a game. We lost in a bad way. We understand that. You either fight or you fall. All we know how to do is fight. I trust the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff to fight.”

Before getting hired as a head coach, Bowles built up a resume with 20 years of coaching experience. He put the work in to become an NFL head coach, it just hasn’t delivered the results he expected when he took this job almost four years ago.

How the Jets respond to Bowles, during these final six weeks, will go a long way towards evaluating his future as an NFL coach.

Successful leaders in sports, who survive the ups and downs, are the ones that get their players to give them everything they have left in the tank. Every Sunday they’re willing to run through walls for their coach, no matter the situation. They’re playing not just for themselves, but for their head coach – their leader.

There still is the possibility the Jets avoid another 5-11 season and bring Bowles back. What if they win four of their last six games? Wouldn’t that indicate they didn’t quit on their coach?  

Any interested employer will take a hard look at how their candidate finished up their last job. The same logic applies in the world of sports. These last six games will be used as references to help evaluate the future of Todd Bowles, NFL head coach.

It’s not always where you start as much as it’s how you finished.

This team has fallen more times than any fan cares to remember. However, despite there being more losses than wins, Bowles has always had his team’s back. His press conferences always emphasize the team over the individual, win or loss. Now he needs his team, players and coaching staff, to show they can fight to the end for him.

The Jets have six games left in the season to show us, the league, and their head coach they’re not just about talking a good game.

And this is the only test left for Bowles with the Jets which remains. It’s the only one that matters. The success of a team on the field is 50/50 between the coach and the players. Does he truly have their respect? The respect of his players and their willingness to fight for him to the very end.

Or was it all just talk without any action to back it up? An indication that Bowles didn’t really get the most out of his players.

The next chapter in his NFL coaching career may very well depend on it.

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