Goodbye and good luck, Todd Bowles. The Jets are not your problem anymore. Mike Maccagnan is on the clock now.
No matter who coaches the Jets in 2019, it is the general manager who will be praised or blamed for what unfolds.
And that is as it should be, because after the Jets finally fired Bowles on Sunday night, four years after he and Maccagnan arrived together, who else are we to point to if the team does not improve next season?
Add more than $100 million in salary-cap space, the third overall pick in the draft and a promising young quarterback and, well, let’s just say there are no excuses for the general manager.
Bowles may not be as good a coach as Bill Belichick, his counterpart in Sunday’s 38-3 rout by the Patriots, but Maccagnan has had too many whiffs on draft picks and free agents not to be counted as a big reason Bowles is gone.
In case anyone had any doubts, the team’s only current Pro Bowler on offense or defense offered an extraordinarily blunt parting message before leaving the visiting locker room at Gillette Stadium.
Safety Jamal Adams, one Maccagnan pick who has paid off, seemed to be channeling many fans’ frustration along with his own in making a plea for better players.
Asked if there is enough talent on the team, he said: “We have a lot of talent on the team, but we don’t have a lot of dawgs on this team. We need more players and we need more dawgs.”
Adams was only getting warmed up.
“You have to go get big-time players,” he said. “You’ve got to get names. It’s simple. You look at the top teams. You look at the Saints. You look at the Rams. You look at the Chicago Bears. You look at all these teams. C’mon, man, you’ve got to go get players.
“It’s nothing against the players in here. Great teammates of mine, great brothers. And we have talent. We’re just not all the way there. You can’t beat around the bush, man. That’s why we’ve been losing. We’ve been beating around the bush. You can’t beat around the bush. You have to be real with yourself.”
These are the sorts of things pundits and fans say, not active players. But there it was. And it was difficult to argue against.
Adams said the 4-12 record was not Bowles’ fault, called him his favorite among all coaches he has played for, and again made it clear that he believes that Bowles did not have sufficient talent at his disposal. Adams went so far as to predict karmic payback for Bowles when he gets his next job.
Adams vowed to help the offseason cause by actively recruiting star free agents. The only one he identified by name was former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, but he said there are many others on his list.
“It’s just like LeBron James said, that he always recruits,” Adams said. “I recruit every week, every day, every year. But when you recruit, some people say, ‘Oh, man, he doesn’t believe in his team.’ No, that’s not it. I’m trying to maximize the opportunity, because this game runs out of time. It doesn’t wait for anybody.”
Adams acknowledged that his campaign will be complicated by the fact that the Jets have not won lately.
“You’ve got to create a culture around here for free agents to come,” he said. “Free agents don’t just come to losing situations and things that are going negative. They want positivity. They want something that they can look forward to . . . We have to get better and it has to be now.”
Adams said he has faith in Maccagnan doing the job but added that it must be a group effort. “It can’t just turn around by one group is doing this, one group is doing that,” he said. “Then we have tugs. That’s not want we want to do. We want to get on the same rope pulling the same way.”
Does Adams plan to reiterate what he told reporters when he has his end-of-season exit interview with Jets decision-makers, now minus Bowles?
“Yeah,” he said. “Damn right.”