There’s only one detestable stench that emanates from a losing team’s locker room worse than the sights and sounds of resignation: Quitting.
The Jets might be 3-8 after Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium, but they haven’t quit. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. In fact, that might be the only thing they’ve got going for them.
Three games ago, after a 13-6 loss to the Dolphins, there was evidence of rage inside the Jets’ postgame locker room at Hard Rock Stadium. Jets safety Jamal Adams, very much the heartbeat and emotional barometer on the team, was apoplectic after that loss. Other players angrily declined comment.
Two games ago, a 41-10 home loss to the lowly Bills left the Jets locker room in a state of shock, with players wondering how it was possible for them to be outclassed and outplayed by a fourth-string quarterback (Matt Barkley) who’d been signed off the street by Buffalo just days before.
That brings us to Sunday afternoon’s loss to the 8-3 Patriots, when resignation officially set in with Jets players as they sorted out this latest defeat, their fifth in a row — the longest losing streak in a Todd Bowles coaching era that has been defined by a lot more losing than winning.
Players quitting is automatic grounds for a head coach to be fired.
Resignation is a close second.
Where does that leave Bowles?
Well, if he wasn’t fired after that loss to the Bills, who led 31-0 at one point in the first half, it’s clear that Bowles, who’s 13-31 dating back to the loss in the 2015 season finale, will not be relieved of his duties before this season ends.
But that end result appears inevitable.
Those who defend the job Bowles has done with the Jets in the past four playoff-less seasons — the crowd in that room is thinning by the minute — have to ask themselves these questions:
- What are his strengths?
- What does he do best?
- How does he make his teams better?
Did Bowles lose this game to the Patriots?
No, but he didn’t help them win it.
Take, for example, Bowles’ highly questionable decision in the first quarter not to decline an offensive pass-interference penalty called on Patriots running back James White on third-and-2 from the Jets’ 24-yard line.
Instead of declining the penalty and leaving the Patriots with a fourth-and-2, possibly settling for a 42-yard field-goal attempt, Bowles gave Tom Brady — the greatest quarterback in league history — another chance to make a first down and perhaps a touchdown.
Well, you probably know what happened next.
On the very next play — third-and-12 from the Jets’ 34 — Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 34-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
“Third-and-12 were good odds for us,’’ Bowles said. “We’ve been pretty good on third-and-12.’’
Except they aren’t. The Jets entered the game ranked 28th in the NFL on defending plays of third-and-12 and longer.
“We knew they would have gone for it on fourth-and-2,’’ Bowles said. “We figured if we backed them up, we had a chance [for them] to kick a field goal and it didn’t work out.’’
Jets report card: Effort unable to mask coaching deficiencies
Grades from the Jets’ 27-13 loss the Patriots on Sunday….
Not enough has worked out for Bowles in his four years. It just hasn’t been good enough. Quite simply, it’s just run its course.
Here’s what’s most damning about Bowles, who despite his emotionless act in public is well-liked by most of his players and those who know him behind the scenes: He was hired in large part because of his prowess as a defensive coach, and when has any of his defenses distinguished themselves in his four years here?
On Sunday, the Jets defense allowed 498 yards, including an inexcusable 215 yards on the ground. This was the fifth time this season the Jets have allowed 400 or more yards on defense.
This is just not good enough — especially when the same things continue to occur from one week to the next.
How much more of this can Jets CEO Chris Johnson stomach as he watches these games from the owner’s suite?
“We fought [in] this game, we just didn’t execute in the second half,’’ Bowles said. “So we’ve got to go back to the drawing board.’’
That drawing board is worn out, the chalk now mere specks of white dust.
Just like another Jets season. Just like Bowles’ head-coaching run here.