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Can Mike Maccagnan, Todd Bowles fix Jets’ mess?

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles watches

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. Photo Credit: AP / Ross D. Franklin

Sure, there are worse jobs in football than Mike Maccagnan’s and Todd Bowles’.

There’s, umm, cleaning the dried gum from under the seats at Oakland Coliseum after a Raiders game, and being a Bills cheerleader in December, and interviewing Bill Belichick and . . . actually, come to think of it, maybe not.

The Jets’ brain trust, including everyone who works with the general manager and coach, is in a bad, bad way, with a lot of work to do and no clear path to daylight.

That path took a U-turn — one that illustrated the desperate nature of the situation — on a call with reporters Tuesday when Bowles said he had “revisited” what he said after Monday’s loss to the Cardinals about Ryan Fitzpatrick starting at quarterback over Geno Smith this weekend against the Ravens.

Bowles said he would discuss the matter with his staff Tuesday night. Hmm. (Thanks for reading and considering my column suggesting you yank Fitz, Coach!)

He also said that if things continue to go south, Bryce Petty and/or Christian Hackenberg could get a look come late autumn. Double-hmm.

“We’ve still got some stages to go before we get to that point, but it’s definitely possible,” he said. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Our season’s not lost, so I haven’t gotten to that bridge yet.”

Maybe, but he is pulling up to the E-ZPass reader.

It is not so much that the Jets are 1-5. Hey, stuff happens. It’s the NFL, and everyone knew coming in that the Jets’ first six games would be rocky compared with their downy 2015 slate.

But that’s not the half of it. The Jets might be the worst team in the league right now, with a scoring differential of minus-11.5 points per game — worse even than that of the winless Browns.

Their minus-11 turnover differential also is the worst in the NFL, just under the minus-10 Giants.

They have four quarterbacks, none of whom appears to be a short-term answer and two of whom — Fitzpatrick and Smith — could well be former Jets six months from now.

They can’t block or run or rush the opposing passer or cover people or avoid penalties. They have been outscored, 51-7, in second halves during their four-game losing streak.

Their most accomplished quarterback, receiver, running back, offensive lineman, cornerback, linebacker and kicker all are 30 or older. Their No. 2 receiver had hip surgery on Tuesday.

The only part of the outfit regularly in working order is Brandon Marshall’s mouth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Every week he eloquently strikes a balance between telling it like it is and remaining optimistic and supportive.

“If you put your head down, you mope, you point the finger, you whine, you’re going to dig yourself a bigger hole,” he said after Monday’s 28-3 loss. “We have no choice but to keep our head up, stay positive. I don’t want it to get worse.”

That hardly seems possible, and it plausibly could get better with the schedule finally easing up.

How did it come to this? Too many unproductive drafts, mostly. And too many big-name old guys and/or Tebows coming and going to generate publicity and ticket sales.

And no consistent answer at quarterback since . . . Chad Pennington, I suppose.

Many Jets fans already are looking ahead to the draft and wondering whether more losing might be the best strategic way forward in 2016. Perhaps, but that assumes they will take full advantage of high draft picks should they earn them.

It is way too soon to give up on Maccagnan and/or Bowles being the men to lead the Jets out of this mess, and it is OK to feel at least a tiny bit of sympathy for them, given the magnitude of the task.

Not nearly as much sympathy as the rest of us should have for Jets fans, though.


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