By Steve Silverman
It looks like Todd Bowles was depending on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold to lead the team, turn it into a winning operation and a possible playoff contender.
If that was going to happen, Darnold would be completing 60-to-65 percent of his passes, throwing for 260-280 yards per game and throwing at least two TD passes every game. Turnovers would be kept to a minimum – no more than one per game – and he would be decisive in the huddle on an every-play basis.
In other words, he would be playing like a five-year veteran.
There’s one problem with that scenario. No first-year quarterback can do it all right from the start, and nearly every head coach knows that rookie quarterbacks can’t play mistake-free football.
While young signal callers are capable of playing and starting, they still go through the learning process and it is painful. That was the case for Joe Montana, Steve Young, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
It is a coach’s job to have all scenarios covered, and it doesn’t appear that Bowles has the answers to any of them.
The defense has no answers after four weeks. After a promising start in Week One against the Detroit Lions, that unit has gotten worse each week. Blake Bortles may have raised his status in the last couple of years after he was generally thought of as the worst quarterback in the NFL, but there’s no way he should be able to put an All-Pro performance on the board against the Jets.
He completed 29 of 38 passes for 388 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while averaging 10.2 yards per passing attempt, which tells you that the Jets defense was particularly heinous against a team that is notoriously average on offense.
The Jaguars best offensive player is Leonard Fournette and he had just 30 yards on 11 carries before a balky hamstring kept him from asserting himself.
The Jets appeared to be disinterested throughout much of the game. Bowles is not reaching his players, and he basically invited general manager Mike Maccagnan to send him packing. Bowles had no answers when it came to explaining why the Jets were so ineffective after having 10 days to prepare for the game following the Week Three Thursday night loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“I wish I could sit here and explain because we weren’t very good,” Bowles said after the game. “I don’t know why we didn’t play well.”
There are ups and downs in an NFL season, and there’s no way any team can simply improve every week to the point where all goals are met. That’s something of a storybook idea.
But, the overall trend has to be one of improvement. The strengths have to be established after four weeks of the season, and the weaknesses have to start getting better.
Bowles doesn’t seem to have a gameplan on how his team is supposed to improve.
There is enough talent on offense that the Jets should be able to hang in against a team like the Jaguars. Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell are not stars and never will be, but they know how to contribute and get the most out of every attempts.
Quincy Enunwa is a fighter at wide receiver who can set the tone for the other receivers. Terrelle Pryor and Robby Anderson are capable of playing contributing roles on the offense.
But there is an inevitability that has been pervasive with this year’s Jets team. There is a feeling that this team will find a way to lose most weeks, either because they make too many mistakes or they are in over their head against an opponent.
Bowles is just too laid back to get the team out of this mindset, and he lacks the tactical mind to figure out how to get his team to execute efficiently.
He is a coach who is in over his head and while his players may voice support for their boss, they know that they are on the losing end of the coaching competition.
At the start of the season, sports website OddsShark listed Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Bucs as the head coach most likely to be fired. He was followed by Hue Jackson, Vance Joseph, and Adam Gase.
Marvin Lewis and Bowles were next on the list. This was the analysis in the first week of the season. The way things have gone, it seems almost certain that Bowles is now at the top of the list and the clock is ticking.