What has felt inevitable for weeks became reality Sunday when the Jets fired head coach Todd Bowles.
Bowles, 55, leaves the Jets with a record of 24-40 in his four seasons as the team’s coach. His final game was a 38-3 loss to the Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass. The Jets made the firing official with a tweet Sunday night.
“I would like to thank Coach Bowles for his dedication to the New York Jets for the last four years,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said. “After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take. I would like to wish Todd, Taneka and their family only the best.”
The Jets announced they are retaining general manager Mike Maccagnan and he will lead the search for a new head coach along with Johnson.
The decision to fire Bowles was made long before Sunday, though. His fate was sealed during a six-game losing streak in the middle of the season. The low point was a 41-10 loss to the Bills at home on Nov. 11. The Bills started backup quarterback Matt Barkley and the Jets were uncompetitive in the game. There were calls to fire Bowles after that game, but Jets ownership decided to let him finish the season.
The Jets 4-12 record is their worst under Bowles and the worst since 2014, Rex Ryan’s final season as head coach. The Jets have suffered three straight losing seasons for the first time since 1994-96. Bowles maddened fans with his lack of fire on the sideline and killer penalties his teams always seemed to commit.
The Jets will now begin a search for their new head coach. They are expected to begin requesting interviews in the coming days.
Bowles was hired in 2015 after two years as the Cardinals defensive coordinator. He had been named Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014 for his work with Arizona. The Jets teamed him up with Maccagnan, who had been hired at the same time.
The Elizabeth, N.J., native had early success. The Jets went 10-6 in his first season as coach, winning five games in a row late in the season to make a playoff push. He deftly managed the situation when quarterback Geno Smith broke his jaw in training camp after teammate IK Enemkpali punched him.
Bowles cut Enemkpali on the spot and named Ryan Fitzpatrick starter. Fitzpatrick rewarded him with a career year, but everything fell apart in the final game of the season, though. The Jets lost 22-17 to Ryan’s Bills in Buffalo and missed the playoffs when Fitzpatrick threw three fourth-quarter interceptions.
The Jets brought back largely the same team in 2016, but things fell apart. Fitzpatrick could not duplicate the magic of 2015, wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker had injury issues and cornerback Darrelle Revis got old fast.
All of that led to a 5-11 season and questions about Bowles’ future with the team. There also was a locker-room incident between Marshall and defensive end Sheldon Richardson that showed a lack of cohesiveness on the team.
The Jets gave Bowles a vote of confidence entering 2017, but also tore down the roster. They got rid of aging, expensive veterans and left Bowles with very little talent to work with. He managed to go 5-11, which was seen as a strong showing by him considering the roster. The Jets gave Bowles and Maccagnan two-year contract extensions through 2020 before the final game of the year.
This season, Bowles finally had his young quarterback to work with after the Jets drafted Sam Darnold No. 3 overall. Bowles named him the starter entering the season and the Jets had some ups and downs early. Their first three losses were all rough ones. They trailed the Dolphins at home 20-0 in Week 2 in the first half. They blew a 14-0 lead in Cleveland in primetime. Then, the Jaguars carved up Bowles’ defense.
The team rallied to win two games in October and even their record at 3-3, but that is when the team collapsed. Six straight losses before a win in Buffalo in December ended any thought of Bowles returning in 2019.
Bowles lost 34 games in the last three years. He is the first Jets coach to coach at least three years and not make the playoffs once.
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