By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
If anyone ever determined the course of a team based on preseason perceptions, the Giants would have signed Ben McAdoo to a long-term extension in August and Todd Bowles never would have made it to the opening kickoff in Buffalo.
Instead, as the Giants sit at 1-8, ownership felt a need to send out a statement proclaiming McAdoo’s job is safe, at least until the end of the season regardless of how the rest of the season shakes out.
And how has it worked out for Bowles?
Quite well, actually. And that’s something considering his team has lost four out of five and comes off a perfectly unwatchable 15-10 loss to the Bucs. Yet, Bowles will spend the rest of this bye week analyzing his team free from the roaring circus that surrounds his MetLife Stadium neighbor.
There have been no calls for his job recently. No need for lukewarm statements of support from above. Though he probably wouldn’t waste valuable film time agonizing over his employment situation, and he certainly wouldn’t expound on it publicly if he had, the fact is Bowles may well have saved his job these past 10 games.
Ordinarily, it would be hard to say that about any 4-6 coach working outside the end of Football Earth, commonly known as Cleveland. Those pitiable fans would build a statue to a guy who could get the Browns to where Bowles has the Jets now.
Not that being two games below .500 this late in a season is anything to brag about. The Jets have been nothing if not inconsistent this year. The offensive line leaked like a sieve Sunday, allowing Tampa Bay to shut down both the ground and air game. Old Josh McCown got hit 14 times and first downs came about as frequently as snowstorms in July.
Yet, they stayed with the Patriots before falling by a touchdown.
Beating the Jags in the middle of their three-game winning streak wasn’t considered a great feat at the time, but that win has looked considerably more glittery as Jacksonville sits at 6-3 and tied with Tennessee for the AFC South lead.
Bowles has clearly exceeded all expectations for the Jets, by a lot. And there might be more in store. Imagine if that team, deemed the NFL’s most undermanned squad coming out of training camp, squeezes out six wins and another competitive showing against Tom Brady?
Getting that roster to 6-10 would qualify as Bowles’ greatest coaching accomplishment. Better, even, than the 10-6 mark he posted as a rookie coach in 2015.
Questions about finding a franchise quarterback in the draft will persist, and Bowles’ modest success won’t make drafting a Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen any easier. And if they win one or two more, it may be all but impossible.
Bowles said Monday that he has no intention of sacrificing games with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty unless McCown goes down injured. And that’s another function of the team rising above the preseason predictions.
The Jets won’t win this year. They won’t even get to .500. They remain in want of several quality pieces on the offensive front, at wide receiver, in the secondary, and, yes, at quarterback. But considering where they rightfully should have been at this point — in a dreary race with the Browns to the top of the draft — the Jets have every reason not to throw in the towel after the bye.
Mike Maccagnan should take notice. Bowles has them playing, if not well, then at least with effort.
For that and the four tangible, unexpected wins he has squeezed out of an under-talented squad, he has earned another go-around in 2018.
Please follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino