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NY Jets: Defending the Indefensible

Defending the Indefensible: Blame Bowles

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

By no means do I think keeping Mike Maccagnan is the correct move for the franchise. He in my opinion has been a bad GM, and the decision to keep him may prove catastrophic. But he’s also here to stay for 2019. I’ll try to defend the bad decision as best as I can by doing the only thing I can: blaming someone else.

The only reason he’s back is because he can blame a head coach for being just as bad if not worse at his job.

Serious question that has been asked a million times: Who was worse, the coach or GM? There’s an argument for either but the Jets believe that their talent is better than what Bowles got out of them.

Here’s a quick test. Name one player who has overachieved under Bowles. Is there one? The only ones I can think of are Demario Davis who resurrected his career under Bowles and maybe Avery Williamson who was solid. (Before I go all in on Henry Anderson, I’d like to see what he does in year two.)

The list of players who have faltered under Bowles is extensive. Revis was nowhere near good after year one, and Trumaine Johnson had an awful first year. The front of Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Sheldon Richardson all had disappointing years under Bowles. (I’ll note this argument is flimsy at best. The list of players who went elsewhere after busting with the Jets and then succeeded elsewhere is small.)

Forget individually. Could you make the case the coaches got the most out of the team week in and week out? As noted by Nania here, Bowles made some awful decisions and did it multiple times. His teams also no showed multiple games.

Tactically the Jets were a mess on defense. Pepper Johnson aired out a ton of grievances in an interview on Deadspin, but the one that stood out to me was that the Jets had no synergy and would rush the passer to stop a short pass while playing off coverage.

Some choice quotes via Deadspin:

“I’m a strong believer of where the pass rush matches the coverage. This was one of the things that I could not get done with the Jets; I could not get the pass rush and the coverage together.”

And forget about discipline. Multiple players over multiple years have taken advantage of the system. Here’s the dysfunction with Mo and Sheldon.

“ They were late for the team meetings, they were late for the head coach’s meetings. So that’s on the head coach—and I can’t discipline them anyway, and the players know that.

Then you get to the offense. Bowles demanded the Jets run the ball constantly and hired a coach just to do that. In multiple games this year, the Jets continued with the run heavy gameplan despite it not working.

This was all because Bowles didn’t like how pass heavy his offense was last year and wanted a change.

Last argument: The What-If Game

The Jets dropped a game to the Browns. Titans, and Packers where they lead for long stretches and/or had leads late. (Jamal Adams had the money comment. The defense didn’t prepare at all for Mayfield, which is exactly the problem), Don’t forget the Miami game when the Jets refused to bench Long as the center.

In 2017 the Jets lost to Miami after giving up 17 unanswered in the fourth quarter. The Jets also fell to the Falcons after getting outscored in the 4th quarter. There were other late collapses.

In a way this situation reminds me of the Hackenberg draft pick and the reasons for it.

In this case Maccagnan and Hackenberg are the same. Both struggled mightily for most of the tenure. Their only argument is that they were both hampered if not completely stymied by bad coaching. Unfortunately, you have to ignore years of evidence suggesting it’s not just coaching. You’re banking on Macc getting help from a coach who gets everything and then some out of his players.

As a Jets fan, I hope keeping Mac ends better than drafting Hack did. My guess is the Jets got another decision dead wrong. I’m hoping they prove me wrong.