It’s unclear if New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles is on the hot seat. After a disasterous 2016 campaign, Bowles was handed a roster with lackluster talent after New York got rid of nearly every useful veteran on the roster in a historic purge.
In New York’s season-opening 21-12 loss, however, the on-field performance wasn’t the only thing that received criticism.
Bowles made a handful of questionable decisions, most notably the decision to punt when the Jets were down two possessions with four minutes remaining in regulation. Let’s break down a few of Bowles’ most scrutinized blunders, both schematically and in-game management.
The late-game punt
Here’s the situation: The Jets were down 21-12 with just about four minutes to play in regulation. The Jets were at their own 44-yard line after picking up 12 yards on a 3rd-and-20. They had all three timeouts —and the two-minute warning — and had forced two consecutive three-and-outs.
The thinking behind the decision seemed to be that Bowles believed in his defense and its ability to get a quick stop, giving the ball back to the offense.
“We stopped them before and we would have had the field position,” Bowles said after the game. “Had we went for it on fourth and not gotten it — and they got the ball back — by the time they would’ve punted it, we would’ve been backed up and it would’ve been hard to go about 90 yards.”
The counterargument, and the one with which many would agree, is that the Jets didn’t have enough time to make up two scores in under four minutes. That’s even if they did get the stop. Keep in mind, the Jets had only scored 12 points — it’s not like they’re the Packers or Patriots when it comes to offensive firepower.
The 2-point conversion
The punt situation was a problem because of Bowles’ decision to attempt a two-point conversion after New York scored a touchdown to trim the deficit down to 14-12. Although there were still two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bowles opted to go for the two-point conversion.
If the Jets attempted the extra point, they would have only been trailing by eight — still one possession — during the time of the punt debacle.
The coaching staff’s other questionable decision was calling a play action rollout on the goal-line for the conversion attempt. Offensive coordinator John Morton had previously called two unsuccessful passing plays inside the five-yard line before the Jets scored on a McCown quarterback sneak.
Defensive gameplan against misdirections
New York’s defense, especially its linebackers, struggled immensely on misdirection and play action plays by Buffalo. That was evident on the short touchdown to Andre Holmes that froze rookie safety Marcus Maye, but also on many other plays on which Buffalo attacked the linebackers.
Bowles admitted after the game that there was blame to place on both the coaching staff and the players. Considering Bowles is advertised as a defensive-minded coach, the Jets’ struggles defensively are concerning. The Bills averaged 4.5 yards per carry — including 5.0 by LeSean McCoy — and the duo of Charles Clay and McCoy picked up over 100 receiving yards.