By Ernie Palladino
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Todd Bowles won’t be winning any press conferences anytime soon, at least not the way Rex Ryan stomped his introduction to the Buffalo media into submission.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
That’s OK. Better Bowles should win games. The 51-year-old former defensive back and the so-called back page may well develop an oil-and-water relationship that causes editors and reporters to look elsewhere for entertainment, but all will be forgiven if the Jets are the ones playing on the final Sunday.
Actually, after these last four seasons, the bar is set fairly low for Bowles. A mere wild card berth in 2015 will have all who preferred the risk of waiting for Seattle’s Dan Quinn applauding Woody Johnson’s choice.
That’s for the future, though. For now, Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan have much to do to shake off the stigma of the last two Ryan-John Idzik years. He might start with quarterback, seeing what everyone but Idzik should know by now — that Geno Smith is not going to lead anyone anywhere. Unless Maccagnan is already laying groundwork with the Bucs for a five-spot trade-up to No. 1, the news that Marcus Mariota has committed to the draft won’t mean a thing to the Jets. The two will have to have to seek another type of arm for presumed offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to mold.
Gailey is another issue. A lot is being made about the former Bills and Cowboys head coach’s two-year absence from the NFL landscape. Don’t worry, he hasn’t forgotten football strategy. And don’t get scared over his horrible record as head coach. Gailey is known as a creative, resourceful offensive coordinator. He went to four Super Bowls as an assistant.
He’s just one of those coordinators whose chair never, ever should have been situated in a head coach’s office.
Think about this, too. How brilliant will Bowles look if Gailey actually turns Smith into an average, functional quarterback? Again, no one is looking for anything fancy here. A few key completions, a few more touchdowns than interceptions, a couple of comeback wins.
Gailey can do that. Another mobile quarterback of some note, Kordell Stewart, had his best year in Pittsburgh when Gailey ran Bill Cowher’s offense into the 1997 AFC Championship game.
Defensively, Bowles will act a lot like Ryan, just not as chatty. He blitzed like a madman in Arizona. He’ll blitz here as long as Maccagnan can land a couple of cornerback upgrades in free agency. The Cardinals’ pass defense gave up a ton of yards and ranked 29th, and Ryan’s Jets actually finished with 10 more sacks than the Cards’ 35. But Bowles’ unit stood fast when it counted, allowing just 299 points, the league’s fifth-lowest total. The Cards have allowed an average of 19.5 points per game over the last two years.READ MORE: Gabby Petito Foundation Holds Fundraiser On Long Island
And they were monsters inside the 20, allowing just 18 touchdowns in 41 possessions. The 43.9 touchdown percentage led the conference and ranked third league-wide in 2014.
The Cardinals went to the playoffs at 11-5 despite offensive injuries that increased the defense’s stress level. But Bowles saw his players though it.
Now he must do the same for the Jets.
Whatever the outcome in 2015, he’ll do it quietly. One place he won’t be winning is at the podium.
Ryan showed beyond a doubt Wednesday that he is still, and probably always will be, the Super Bowl champion inside the interview room.
Doesn’t matter. Let the words of the late Raiders owner Al Davis say it for Bowles.
“Just win, baby!”
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