MOBILE, Ala. — The Jets still don’t have an offensive coordinator, but that doesn’t mean coach Todd Bowles doesn’t have a target in mind.
“I’m pretty sure where I’m going,” Bowles told Newsday and NJ.com, with a smile, during a break between Senior Bowl practices on Tuesday.
Asked if he knows what system he plans to run without a coordinator in place, he said: “Yeah, I’m good. [I’m looking at players] on both sides of the ball. I know what we need.”
The Jets are still in the market for a new play-caller following the unexpected retirement of Chan Gailey. Former Texans offensive coordinator George Godsey is among the rumored candidates for the Jets’ vacancy. A source also confirmed the organization interviewed Saints wide receivers coach John Morton.
But Bowles, who was seated in the stands of Ladd-Peebles Stadium with defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, inside linebacker coach Mike Caldwell and new defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, strongly hinted that he has a plan for the offensive side of the ball — a plan that he’s not willing to divulge just yet.
“I will announce them all when I’m ready to announce them,” said Bowles, who fired defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, running backs coach Marcel Shipp, outside linebackers coach Mark Collins and defensive backs coach Joe Danna on Jan. 3, the same day the Jets announced Gailey’s departure.
Gailey, who turned 65 on Jan. 5, told Bowles last January that his second season would be his last. But only one person on the coaching staff knew that “it was definitive after the first year” that Gailey had made up his mind to retire.
“Just me,” Bowles said.
After a remarkable turnaround in 2015, which included a 10-6 finish and franchise-record numbers for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense, the Jets (5-11) fell woefully short of expectations in Year 2. The offense regressed, ending the season 12th in rushing, 27th in passing and 30th in scoring. But Bowles insisted Gailey’s impending retirement had no impact on his coaching performance.
“He worked just as hard, if not harder this year, than he did the year before,” the coach said.
Bowles also stressed that Gailey’s retirement “made it easier for me” because “this wasn’t last-minute.” Instead, it gave him time to target potential coaching candidates.
Would Gailey have stayed if the Jets had a better record in 2016?
“If you know Chan, you’re not going to convince him to do too many things,” Bowles said, laughing. “He’s set in his ways.
“It was great for him and it was great for me. We have a great relationship, we’re close, we text every week and I was very happy to have him. I respect Chan to the utmost and he doesn’t do anything without thinking about it for a reason. I respect his privacy and I won’t even go into that. I love him to death and I still do. I’m happy for him. He wanted to go out his way and he did.
“Chan has been great,” he added. “He has great advice for a head coach. He has a good perspective on the game on both sides of the ball. And his calmness and understanding of the game is outstanding. I learned some things from him that I would never have gotten from a first-year coordinator and it helped me on that side of the ball so I’m forever grateful.”
Though Bowles declined to discuss his thinking behind the staff shake-up, he did say his health has improved considerably.
“I’m feeling great. Way better [than on Christmas Eve],” he said, referring to his overnight hospital stay for kidney and gall stones the day before the Jets were routed by the Patriots, 41-3. “Leaps and bounds better.”
Bowles was also asked if owner Woody Johnson’s appointment as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom would have an effect him on him and the team next season.
“Our job is to coach football,” he said. “I guess you would have to ask hm how his job would change.”