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Jets fire Todd Bowles after 4-12 season

Jets coach Todd Bowles walks off the field

Jets coach Todd Bowles walks off the field Sunday after a 41-10 loss to the Bills at MetLife Stadium. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Todd Bowles’ four-year run as Jets coach is over.

Bowles was fired after the Jets’ season ended with a 38-3 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday. The Jets were a disappointing 4-12 this season and 24-40 overall under Bowles.

The Jets missed the playoffs each season Bowles was the coach. They had a winning record just once. The Jets went 10-6 in 2015 in his first season. But they lost the final game of the season at Buffalo to former Jets coach Rex Ryan with a playoff berth on the line.

Over the last three seasons, the Jets were 14-34. Bowles was the first coach in Jets’ history to lose at least 11 games for three consecutive years. A six-game losing streak, which included a 31-point home loss to Buffalo, sealed Bowles’ fate.

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Bowles and general manager Mike Maccganan each received two-year extensions after last season. Maccagnan, however, is expected to remain the general manager and continue his plan to try to build the Jets into a winner.

But he didn’t provide Bowles with the offensive playmakers to compete in today’s NFL. The Jets scored just three offensive touchdowns during a five-game stretch.

This was a tough year for Bowles, as he was trying to win while developing rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Growing pains were expected for Darnold and the offense. Darnold improved late in the season, but not enough to save Bowles. Ownership didn’t make a playoff berth the edict, but CEO Christopher Johnson said he wanted to see progress.

After a 3-3 start, the Jets went 1-9. They finished 5-11 the last two seasons. The Jets didn’t make progress and Bowles took the fall for it.

Some, if not all, of Bowles’ staff likely will be let go as well. The Jets had issues on both sides of the ball, as their defense was a disappointment this season.

But their struggles on offense at a time when scoring is at an all-time high could make the Jets look for a coach with an offensive pedigree and someone who can maximize Darnold’s potential. Bowles was a defensive coordinator before becoming head coach.

Among the possible candidates for the Jets’ opening are former Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Titans offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and tight ends coach Dan Campbell, Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

If John Harbaugh doesn’t return to Baltimore he would be a legitimate candidate.  

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley were expected to be on the Jets’ list of candidates, but both men said they are not leaving college at this time.

Former Arizona coach Bruce Arians might be considered but he’s one of Bowles’ mentors and close friends, so he may pass.

The Jets will expect the next coach to end their eight-year playoff drought. They should be an attractive team for coaching candidates. The Jets have a still learning and developing young quarterback as the centerpiece and about $100 million to spend in free agency.

If the Jets put the right players around Darnold, the organization believes will help them become a perennial playoff team – and maybe even end their Super Bowl drought which is at 50 years and counting.

That will be up to Maccagnan, who said he would be active in free agency. He was last year, but some of his signings – cornerback Trumaine Johnson and center Spencer Long in particular – did not have the impact anyone with the Jets hoped.

The Jets will have the No. 3 pick in this draft, plus two third-round selections, as well as a fourth, fifth and seventh. Their glaring areas of need are edge rusher, offensive line help, wide receiver and running back.

Throughout Bowles’ run as coach, the Jets showed a lack of discipline - they continually committed penalties at the worst times - and an inability to finish games. That was true again this season. But things turned for Bowles and the Jets with the Buffalo loss in Week 10.

The Jets look unprepared and as if they overlooked the previously offensive-challenged Bills. Buffalo put up 41 points on the Jets, who looked like a team that had quit on their coach.

Most of the players, especially safety Jamal Adams, came to Bowles’ defense saying he wasn’t to blame. But Bowles’ fate essentially was sealed with that performance.

Bowles wasn’t fired after the game because the Jets wanted to keep some continuity for Darnold and didn’t feel there was a suitable replacement on staff. Only wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell had previous head coaching experience. He spent five seasons as UCLA’s head coach.

But the Jets play after the Buffalo game didn’t help Bowles’ staying power. Offensive ineptitude and defensive breakdowns lead to back-to-back losses against the Patriots and Titans. The Tennessee defeat was the Jets’ sixth in a row and was a microcosm of Bowles’ tenure.

The Jets blew a second half lead because their offense stalled, their defense gave up too many big plays and the committed three penalties on Tennessee’s game-winning drive in the waning moments.

In the Jets’ last home game, they led by 15 in the fourth quarter, but lost to the Packers in overtime. They gave up 24 points in the last 15:22 and committed 16 penalties overall for a franchise-record 172 yards.

This was Bowles’ second tour of duty with the Jets.

He began his coaching career with the Jets, as the defensive backs coach under Al Groh in 2000 before joining the Browns coaching staff. Bowles also worked for the Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, and was the Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator for two seasons under Arians before replacing Ryan as Jets coach in 2015.

Bowles spent eight seasons in the NFL as a safety for the Redskins and 49ers. He was a starter on Washington’s 1987 Super Bowl-winning team.

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