Win or lose the rest of the way, it should be argued that year number one under head coach Todd Bowles has been a success for the New York Jets.
The win brought New York’s record to 6-5 and revived their playoff hopes. More importantly though, it’s brought a warmer feeling around the new Bowles’ era. Whether this team makes the playoffs or not, it’s safe to say that year one in the Todd Bowles/Mike Maccagnan era has been a success.
Because this team went 4-1 in their first five games this season and then proceeded to drop four of the next five games, it’s easy for fans and analysts to forget that this franchise is in the midst of a rebuild.
To jog the memories of Jet Nation, this is what their team looked like one year ago today:
- Record: 2-10
- Leading Passer: Geno Smith (1,524 yds, 7 tds, 11 int, 57.4 cmp%)
- Leading Rusher: Chris Ivory (641 yds, 5 tds, 4.4 ypc)
- Leading Receiver: Eric Decker (49 rec, 531 yds, 4 tds)
- Total Sacks: 29
- Turnover Differential: -12 (8 taken/20 given)
- Avg. Points Allowed: 26.6
- Avg. Points Scored: 15.8
Insert Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles, fast forward one year, and this is where the New York Jets currently stand:
- Record: 6-5
- Leading Passer: Ryan Fitzpatrick (2,476 yds, 20 tds, 11 int, 58.5 cmp%)
- Leading Rusher: Chris Ivory (766 yds, 7 tds, 4.1 ypc)
- Leading Receiver: Brandon Marshall (71 rec, 931 yds, 9 tds)
- Total Sacks: 25
- Turnover Differential: +4 (22 taken/18 given)
- Avg. Points Allowed: 20.7
- Avg. Points Scored: 24.7
(Oh, and the 2014 stats were through 12 games, while the 2015 stats are through 11 games.)
Nearly 1,000 more passing yards, 13 more passing touchdowns, and they’ve maintained production in the running game from Chris Ivory. The turnover differential has vastly improved, the average points allowed has decreased, while the sack numbers have stayed relatively the same.
And most of all, this team has already won four more games than they did last year at this point (and two more games than they won all of last season).
At this point last year every Jets fan and their mother was preparing for a top 10 draft pick, and accepting the fact that 2015 was going to be a rebuilding year.
New York would go on to win two of their final four games of the season, including a promising Week 17 win against Miami, but it wasn’t enough for Rex Ryan to retain his dream job in the Big Apple.
With the once beloved head coach now gone and the not so beloved GM John Idzik let go shortly thereafter, the future of the New York Jets was a mystery.
All the fans could hope for at this point was for a general manager and a head coach who could be on the same page, and use the near $60 million in cap space and sixth overall pick in the draft to build a team for the future.
That is what they got from Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles, and it’s become clear through the first 11 games of this season.
He filled the void at left guard with the signing of James Carpenter (who’s arguably been NYJ’s best O-lineman this season).
He added playmakers on offense by trading a fifth and a sixth round pick for Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick, respectively.
The first-year GM took all the money he had and all of the draft picks, and managed to use them in a manner that would form a roster capable of winning now, and preparing for the future.
The trade for Ryan Fitzpatrick for example, now can be considered the best move of the off-season, but at the time it was Macc’s way of buying short-term insurance on Geno Smith should he fail to get it right in year four (good thinking).
Then, the selection of Bryce Petty in the fourth round of the draft provided long-term insurance by adding a young arm who could take over for Fitzpatrick in a few years.
Maccagnan’s selection of Lorenzo Mauldin IV in the third round was also extremely important because of his value both now and in the future.
Heading into the off-season one of New York’s biggest weaknesses on defense was their lack of a speed rusher on the edge. Florida’s Dante Fowler Jr. and Clemson’s Vic Beasley were two names linked with the Jets in mock drafts, but neither deserved to be picked before big Leonard in the first round.
Though it would have been nice to have a potential three-down edge player like Fowler or Beasley, Macc’s knew all the team needed from his edge rusher right now was the ability to come in on third down and bring speed into the front seven.
Mauldin gave him that, and so Maccagnan drafted him with the hopes that his head coach would be able to take his raw speed and potential and turn him into a legitimate pass rushing threat down the road.
It’s only 11 games into his rookie season, but so far it looks like Todd Bowles has number 55 well on the way to becoming a starting outside linebacker in this league.
Todd Bowles has provided this team with the discipline that they lacked all those years with Rex.
It’s unclear how much chemistry the rookie head coach has built with his team up to this point, but what has been made clear is that they respect him. They respect his defensive mind, and they respect the fact that he came to New York to win.
According to ProFootballTalk, Bowles reportedly “went off” on his team following their Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans. Muhammad Wilkerson mentioned his coach’s outburst on WFAN later that week; via ProFootballTalk:
“Coach Todd, after the game, went off on us and told us, ‘Losing is not acceptable,’” Wilkerson said. “He yells at us when things are not going as they should on the field, and they’re not looking the way he expects it to be. He definitely gets on us,” he followed.
That is what I’m talking about. Finally, the Jets employ a coach who will hold his players accountable when they make mistakes. A coach whose only goal, week in and week out, is to win football games.
Should the Jets have more than six wins at this point in the season after starting out 4-1? Absolutely, but the wins will come.
It’s his first year on the job and he’s already managed to maintain a winning record for the majority of the season with a brand new roster. That speaks volumes about his ability to lead a team.
Record aside, it’s become clear through the first 12 weeks of this season that the New York Jets have bought into Bowles’ winning culture.
I’m not counting them out by any means–with five weeks still remaining in the season, the Jets are very much in control of their own destiny–but should they miss out on the playoffs, year one in the Bowles/Maccagnan era would not be a failure.
It would be (and already has been) a big step in the right direction.
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