Jets, fired coach Bowles dealing with that have not feeling
Like any other sports league, the NFL is made up of the haves and the have nots.
Once you fall into one of those groups, it’s not commonplace to go from one to the other for any great length of time.
You saw the clear difference in Sunday’s New England Patriots 38-3 blowout of the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.
It was just several hundred feet between the two. Down the tunnel, in the Patriots locker room, there was the expected glee of clinching at least the second seed in the AFC and a definite first-round bye. Players chatting it up, and you could even hear the voices of kids. Hey, it’s still the holidays.
Deuces won’t be Wild at Gillette next weekend, and the Patriots can gear up for a home divisional round game the weekend of Jan. 12-13. A giddy locker room was welcoming some time off, some time away from the heat of not performing at the level of Patriots teams past with back-to-back losses at Miami and Pittsburgh. All that is history now; win a home playoff game in two weeks and then see whether you stay home one step from another Super Bowl or try to do it on the road. As receiver Chris Hogan said, Sunday’s scrimmage was “essentially like winning a playoff game” because they vault into the second round.
Down the stadium underbelly, however, in a much smaller area, the other half was lamenting a lost season known only for the development of rookie QB Sam Darnold – and the announced exodus of head coach Todd Bowles after four years, the last three at 14-34.
Bowles gave his final press conference, and remained consistent. “I don’t talk about my job,” he said over and over when pressed about it.
Oh, many Patriot fans don’t know what that kind of scene is like, one that was commonplace in the 1970s, ’80s but not seen in Foxborough since the end of the 1999 season when Pete Carroll was fired. The media was summoned to the old Foxboro Stadium for owner Robert Kraft to read a short statement on what’s known around the league as Black Monday and later Carroll, not allowed to talk in the building, gave a press conference outside by a long bike rack used as a divider. He then shook hands with each and every media member and off he went for a year off on the Kraft’s dime, then to USC and then Seattle.
Bowles won’t have that fanfare. He said in his press conference after Sunday’s game that he would meet with team owner Chris Johnson on Monday as he does every week but Johnson and the Jets announced via twitter Sunday night that Bowles had been let go.
“I don’t talk about my job,” Bowles said once again. “That’s been consistent since I’ve been here. …I got better as a coach each year since I’ve been here and I will continue to do so.”
Have any regrets?
“No, I don’t,” he said. “As a coach, you’re supposed to win regardless of who’s on your roster. And you know, we have guys that can play and we have guys that are coming along that are young.”
“Coach Bowles is a great coach,” Darnold said. “He’s going to be himself day in and day out and I think any player can respect that and I think all the coaches respect that, too. He’s awesome to play for.”
Bowles was his classy self up to the end, and you have to feel bad for him. He benched starting corner Trumaine Johnson for showing up late to team meetings, etc. during the week. But he didn’t tell you that. “Coach’s decision,” he said. “Wanted to see the young guys play.”
Well, they tried to play. They made Tom Brady look like Tom Brady again with a four TD pass day after looking like Josh McCown the week before. “Glad we were able to score the points we did today,” Brady said. “We’re going to need more of that in a couple weeks.”
In a couple of weeks, the Jets may find out who their new coach is, or the possibilities. After he was done talking to the media, Bowles and a Jets staffer went across the hall to the locker room entrance. It was locked and the staffer had to knock on the door.
Bowles grinned. He knows the deal.
A much different deal than the one the Patriots have right now, and have had for the majority of the years since they last fired a coach.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph_TomK.