Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.

If Sunday felt like the intersection of two coaching careers at MetLife Stadium, that is because it probably was.

But that’s OK. Time marches on, and if 12 seasons from now Todd Bowles is wrapping up his term after having won two Super Bowls, as Tom Coughlin has, well, every Jets fan alive would sign up for that right now. So would Bowles.

For now, though, it is enough to know this: After several seasons of uncertainty and tumult, owner Woody Johnson appears to have stumbled upon a leadership formula to lead his team into the near future in general manager Mike Maccagnan and Bowles.

That will be true regardless of what happens over the next month. Sure, it would be ideal for the Jets to emerge from the scrum of teams at 7-5 and 6-6 and keep the wild-card spot they currently own.

But even a 1-3 finish would leave them at 8-8. Pretty darn respectable, all things considered.

Not that that guarantees the Jets anything in 2016 and beyond. They still need a franchise quarterback, their superstar cornerback is aging fast and so are their most dynamic receiver and two most recognizable offensive linemen.

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The point here is that entering an offseason in which for once the Jets will be the tranquil, settled franchise in town there is a warm glow of competence surrounding the decision-making team.

Maccagnan did well for himself in his first crack last offseason, notably in low-cost trades for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall — who teamed up for the tying score with 27 seconds left in Sunday’s win over the Giants.

He will get to show his stuff again once the last game is played. Bowles continues to show his while they still are being played.


The guy has let all manner of blows glance off him, starting with the blow that knocked out quarterback Geno Smith before the season began, more recently a 1-4 slide that had fans questioning whether he did, in fact, know what he was doing.

Then he won two in a row, one against the lordly Giants, and as a punctuation mark he benched one of his stars, Mo Wilkerson, for a quarter Sunday for an undisclosed disciplinary reason.

Bowles appears to be completely in charge, even though his emotional pulse appears to be a flat line.

Among other compelling things about him, the guy has a highly unusual — and effective — approach to dealing with the New York-area media.

On one hand, he is barely more quotable than Bill Belichick, an anti-Rex Ryan who often gives short, dull answers. On the other, he tends toward blunt honesty on matters from injuries to players’ failures.

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It is an interesting approach: Reporters ask questions, he answers them. Briefly. Then on to the next one. So simple, it’s a wonder more don’t try it!

What really matters is what the players think and do. And so far they are doing right by him, and themselves.

This is a team with no sense of entitlement, which made what happened Sunday particularly delicious.

The Jets beat the Giants — with their potential Hall of Fame coach and potential Hall of Fame quarterback, in front of a crowd filled mostly with Giants fans — for the first time since 1993.

And it happened in a game they trailed by 10 points with less than five minutes left in regulation, led by a quarterback drafted in the seventh round from Harvard.

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On to the Titans! OK, so that doesn’t sound like as much fun as what happened Sunday. But 7-5 does.

Bowles will need to stick around until 2026 to match Coughlin’s longevity in New York. If he gets that far, Dec. 6, 2015 might be recalled as one of the moments that he, and we, knew it all was going to work out.