Time to give Todd Bowles his due with a contract extension. Also, it might be time to give him a bit of hardware.
It has been nothing short of a masterful job from Bowles this year as head coach of the New York Jets, who has his team at 5-7 in a year where he was supposed to be a lame duck at Week 14. And while that record alone isn’t noteworthy, the simple fact that his team is not only competitive but winning more than their share of games is impressive.
Impressive enough that he should be in the running for NFL Coach of the Year.
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Rewind to this time four months ago.
It was popular if not downright a trend to openly wonder during this past offseason if the Jets would even win a game this season. They were among the favorites to go winless and vie for the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, a team that had shredded not just salary this past offseason but also a lot of recognizable names. In their place was a lot of dead money on the salary cap as well as young players.
The Jets built this team around young players, rookies in particular, as well as undrafted free agents and low-priced veterans who came with more risks than guarantees. The roster was universally panned as the worst in the NFL. Rather than fold like a cheap suit, this young talent responded well to the naysayers, building with confidence as this season has worn on.
In turn, Bowles went from being in his third year with the Jets and openly on the hot seat to now talk about a contract extension.
What Bowles has done with the Jets this year, this squad devoid of superstars and big names, is simply the best coaching job in the NFL. While he likely won’t be able to coach his team to the playoffs or even a winning record, for a team pegged to struggle to get a win or two to now be in this position is remarkable.
The Jets are playing competitive football in December in games that are meaningful to them. Not only meaningful, but they are mathematically alive in the race for the playoffs.
That Bowles is doing so with a career journeyman at quarterback, an offense that lost its star wide receiver in the preseason and a very young defense is truly the best coaching job in the NFL this year.
Chalk this up for the Jets, despite their alleged lack of talent, they have been in a lot of games this year. But for two called back touchdowns by Austin Sefarian-Jenkins in two separate games, this Jets record could easily be flipped to 7-5.
(And those touchdowns should have counted, but that is neither here nor there).
Six of their seven losses have been by nine or fewer points with only a Week 2 loss at the Oakland Raiders a true blowout. Further, three of those six losses have been by less than five points. This is a team that Bowles has coached up, a team that is fighting hard and exceeding expectations in every meaning of the word.
Typically, the NFL Coach of the Year goes to the head coach of the league’s top team. Since 2010, the coach has always had double-digit wins and has averaged just slightly over three losses a year. The last head coach of a team without a winning record dates back to 1990 with Jimmy Johnson and his 7-9 Dallas Cowboys.
That Cowboys team was pointed in the right direction, something that certainly can be applied and sticks to these Jets.
What Bowles has done with this Jets team at 5-7 in the first year of a rebuild is more impressive than that. Time not only for the Jets to be talking extension but also for some true national recognition for the flawless job done by Bowles this year.