Todd Bowles has approximately 1,000,001,969 things swimming in his head each day, but here’s something he couldn’t care less about: A pat on the back.
He didn’t care when the angry mob wanted to kick him to the curb last year. He sure as hell doesn’t care now if they’ve finally come around.
Strip away the worst-team-ever chatter that took on a life of its own this spring and here’s what’s left: Todd Bowles should be the NFL Coach of the Year right now.
Oh, sure. Such an honor just past the midpoint of the season doesn’t actually exist, but it’s undeniable that the Jets head man will be worthy of serious consideration for the award if his team continues to play the same inspired brand of football that has marked the first couple months of the season.
“He’s my Coach of the Year,” linebacker Demario Davis said.
Rams wunderkind Sean McVay is the popular leader in the clubhouse for the honor after turning the Rams into an offensive juggernaut. It looks like L.A. will break the franchise’s 12-year playoff drought thanks to McVay and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who’s been an invaluable resource for the 31-year-old head coach. Let’s not forget: McVay has a young pedigree quarterback (Jared Goff) and dynamic Pro Bowl running back (Todd Gurley) at his disposal. Regardless, nobody would complain if McVay received the honor.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is another worthy candidate, but NFL MVP front runner Carson Wentz and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz have taken center stage during Philly’s league-best 8-1 start.
Sean McDermott has the 5-3 Bills headed in the right direction, but didn’t Bowles & Co. just take Buffalo to school with a rout on national TV?
Todd Bowles has done a superb job for the Jets this season.
Bowles has already made Vegas oddsmakers and analytics geniuses look like fools. You’ve already cashed in if you took the Over on 3.5 wins. You’ve already laughed yourselves to tears at one number-crunching think tank’s claim that the Jets would be nearly eight points worse than the average NFL team in 2017.
Remember when some believed the Jets might be historically inept? Remember when Gang Green was on a collision course with an 0-16 season? Bowles won’t ever say it, but the thought bubble above his head is crystal clear: Never underestimate my team or me.
This just in: Bowles and his revamped staff have done a terrific job this year, according to sources familiar with reality.
“I think the world of Todd,” general manager Mike Maccagnan said. “When you become a general manager or head coach, there’s a learning curve. I really enjoy working with Todd…. I think he’s done a very good job… along with his coaching staff this year. Especially taking a younger team where we made some moves (in the offseason). (He) got those guys focused and playing hard and coming together well.”
Before doubters claim that there’s no chance Bowles could win Coach of the Year honors without making the playoffs, here’s a history lesson for you… free of charge.
Five coaches in the previous 40 seasons have earned the honor without making the postseason: Forrest Gregg (1976 Browns), Jack Patera (1978 Seahawks), Jack Pardee (1979 Washington), Lindy Infante (1989 Packers) and Jimmie Johnson (1990 Cowboys).
A winning record isn’t a perquisite, either. The ’90 Cowboys were 7-9 when Johnson was Coach of the Year following a 1-15 campaign. Johnson had three budding offensive stars at quarterback (Troy Aikman), running back (Emmitt Smith) and wide receiver (Michael Irvin). Bowles is exceeding expectations with a 38-year-old journeyman signal caller, new left tackle, new No. 1 cornerback, new Mike linebacker and two new safeties.
(John Collins/ for New York Daily News)
The same Jets that were lampooned before taking a single snap in 2017 will be 5-5 entering their Week 11 bye if they beat the reeling Buccaneers (2-6) on Sunday. Bowles deserves oodles of credit for being in the playoff conversation at this point. Yes, oodles.
So, how did he do it?
“He put his trust in the leaders – the players,” linebacker Darron Lee said. “We had a leadership group starting this spring. We established our culture. We knew from what we did in the spring that we weren’t going 0-16. We’re a young group building this comradery. And Coach put that trust in us.”
The team’s energy is infectious.
“There’s a lot of really good chemistry in that locker room…” Maccagnan said. “As a general manager, you can put a lot of pieces into the locker room-people that you potentially think will be good leaders. But the locker room will decide who they want to follow. The locker room will decide how they want to hold each other accountable. The one thing about a lot of players on this team… is there’s a lot of fight in them. We may win some games, we may lose some games but I like the way we’re approaching this thing.”
It’s never a one-man show, but Bowles’ fingerprints are all over the good vibes on One Jets Drive. He’s made smart, subtle adjustments without sacrificing his core beliefs.
“It’s a different team, so he just relates to us in a different way,” said Davis, who played for Bowles in 2015 before spending last year in Cleveland. “But he’s the same guy. He hasn’t changed. He hasn’t wavered in his character and his demeanor. He’s never lowered the standard for us. The standard has always been high.”
Bowles might deserve more than just a pat on the back after the season.