On Sunday, the team’s $72.5 million cornerback, Trumaine Johnson, did not play after sleeping late and showing up tardy to practice. After the game, safety Jamal Adams, who had made pointed comments about the team’s losing culture in an interview with Bleacher Report before the season, said the locker room needed more “dogs,” suggesting that heart and hustle were still lacking.
Bowles’s firing comes a week after the Jets’ chairman and chief executive, Christopher Johnson, issued a statement disputing a report from the website Pro Football Talk that the team was planning to try to lure Coach Jim Harbaugh away from the University of Michigan. The statement was hardly convincing; regardless of whether Harbaugh is staying in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Jets are likely to pursue an offensive-minded coach to take the helm, after a series of defense-focused coaches since Bill Parcells stepped down in 1999.
Other popular candidates include the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, the Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, and Mike McCarthy, the former Green Bay Packers coach.
With Bowles’s departure, most of the onus will now be placed on Maccagnan to engineer a turnaround for the franchise, which has not reached the playoffs since 2010. Maccagnan, who was hired by the Jets shortly before Bowles was, had only a small amount of input when Bowles was hired. Now Maccagnan will work closely with Johnson to find a new coach.
The Jets are projected to have more than $100 million in salary cap space this off-season to address areas of need, such as the offensive line, the pass rush and the running game, which could benefit from a multitalented running back like Le’Veon Bell. Basically, the Jets need help just about everywhere, except quarterback.
Sure, Darnold was tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15, despite missing three games with a foot sprain. But he showed plenty of poise and resilience, playing at his best later in the season and finishing his last three games without an interception.
With Darnold, and Adams emerging as a dynamic playmaker and vocal leader, the Jets have critical building blocks on each side of the ball.
Now they need someone to steer the entire ship.