FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Todd Bowles didn’t feel like being reflective about his four seasons as the Jets' coach or how much of a toll this season has taken on him.
There are four games left in the Jets' season, and likely Bowles’ time as their coach. But despite the six-game losing streak, all the talk about his job security and seeing his name dragged through the mud, Bowles says he isn’t looking forward to the Dec. 30 finale at New England.
True to his nature, the only thing Bowles is concerned with is getting his team prepared for Sunday’s game against the Bills.
“I’m just looking forward to the next game,” he said after practice Thursday. “I don’t look forward to the season being over until it’s over.”
The Jets were expected to struggle this season because they were starting a rookie quarterback in Sam Darnold. That’s why the edict from above has been for them to show progress.
Through 12 games, they’re 3-9. They went 5-11 in 2016 and 2017, and it's going to be extremely difficult for them to match that mark for a third straight year.
Their offense has been terrible the last six games. Their defense continues to give up big plays. They continue to draw penalties at the worst times.
“We’ve made too many mistakes. It’s real simple,” Bowles said of why the Jets are staggering to an eighth straight year without a playoff berth.
This season really started to unravel the last time the Jets played the Bills. Buffalo came into MetLife Stadium with an anemic offense and a fourth-string quarterback and scored 41 points against the Jets on Nov. 11. The 31-point defeat gave the appearance that the Jets overlooked the Bills, weren’t prepared and had given up on their coach.
Last week’s loss against the Titans was a microcosm of the Jets under Bowles. They had a 16-0 lead, blew it at the end and committed three penalties during the Titans’ game-winning final drive. The inability to close games and a lack of discipline have been trademarks under Bowles.
In the locker room afterward, players held themselves accountable and tried to take the heat off their coach. It was a nice gesture, and it certainly was true that Bowles did not commit those costly penalties. But the players -- and the coaches -- know how this disappointing season is going to end and who is going to take the fall for it.
But for Bowles, it’s not about him. It’s about his team and the next game. It’s always been all about the team and the next game.
“I’ve been through adversity before,” he said. “It’s not a new thing. Obviously, you don’t like it. You deal with it. You get up and fight the next day. At the same time, as a coach, I don’t worry about myself. I worry more about the team.
“I’ve lived a longer life than these guys on this team. We try to get the team ready to play and just keep fighting and you learn from your mistakes and you go from there.”
The Jets’ record and shortcomings aren't all on Bowles. General manager Mike Maccagnan helped put this team together. The Jets have no premier playmakers on offense and their line has been suspect at best. But Maccagnan seems to be on more solid footing than Bowles is.
This was going to be a tough season regardless. Teams that start a rookie quarterback don't often find themselves in the playoff chase. The four teams that have started a rookie for most of the season all have four wins or fewer.
Bowles was asked if the job, on the whole, has been more challenging than he expected.
“No. It’s normal,” he said. “It’s a coaching job. I’ve anticipated a lot of things in my life that didn’t go quite as planned. That doesn’t make it any more challenging than the next job.”