Todd Bowles stood behind the lectern and offered himself up.
There was no more excuses to give and no explanations that could make sense of yet another embarrassing prime-time defeat.
“It’s all on me,” the Jets’ coach said Saturday night after his team fell to 4-10 with a 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. “I did a terrible job getting these guys ready to play. I thought we were ready to play in the first half. In the second half, as a head coach of this team, that’s not looking very good right now. It’s all a reflection of me. I take full responsibility.”
Though Bowles added that his players “were prepared,” he nevertheless used a good portion of his postgame news conference to confront criticism head on.
“When we play like that, it all falls on me. It starts at the top,” he said. “I have to do a better job and they have to do a better job. But it starts with me.”
Asked if the Jets’ issues stem from a lack of talent on the roster — which was assembled by second-year general manager Mike Maccagnan — Bowles said, “No. We need to play better- structured football.”
But there was plenty of blame to go around Saturday night.
There was Chan Gailey’s inexplicable play-calling — such as his decision to run it on fourth-and-1 out of the shotgun from the Miami 47 in the second quarter. Bilal Powell ran for no gain and the Dolphins scored on a 52-yard pass play from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills on their ensuing drive.
There also was the erratic play of quarterback Bryce Petty (three sacks, two interceptions); the inconsistent play of the Jets’ offensive line, which allowed eight quarterback hits; a blocked punt that was returned for a Dolphins touchdown, and the collapse of Bowles’ defense, which surrendered 21 points in a four-minute span. “That’s unheard of,” cornerback Darrelle Revis told SNY.
But this is just the latest misstep for a team that has played well below expectations this season. And Saturday night’s showing was the second time in three games that they were outplayed and outcoached in front of a national TV audience.
“I’m the head coach of this ballclub,” said Bowles, who reiterated that he doesn’t worry about his job security. “ . . . I can damn sure coach better and make sure the coaches and players understand exactly what’s going on play-by-play. When we’re not winning ballgames, it starts with me. I will be a better damn coach and they’ll be a better team.”
For weeks, the Jets have set out to correct their mistakes and inconsistencies, but invariably, the same issues keep cropping up — poor defense, poor special teams play and poor coaching.
“It’s different guys every week,” Bowles said. “Like I said, I’m not doing a good job.”
His players, however, disagreed.
“I understand why he said that,” left tackle Ben Ijalana said. “I respect him as a man to stand up and say that, but I’m also a man here and I have to hold my share of the blame. Coaches come up with a game plan but they’re not out there on the field. We have to execute that plan. It’s a group responsibility.”
“It’s on everybody,” defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (two tackles) said in agreement. “As coaches, you want to take the blame . . . They’re coaching, but we’re out there playing. We have to do a better job of executing. All 11 guys have to make plays. At the end of the day, that’s it.”