Missing the playoffs in 2017 would not automatically trigger the firing of Jets head coach Todd Bowles, according to owner Woody Johnson.
“No, I really don’t like mandates because they normally don’t work — lines in the sand, whatever,” Johnson said, via ESPN.com.
“You don’t want to judge it that way. The way we’ll judge it is getting better each and every year and seeing it in our players — our young players. Are they getting better or are they going the other way?”
This week was not an easy one in Florham Park, New Jersey, where Jets ownership and general manager Mike Maccagnan had to face the music following a 5-11 season (Maccagnan, as I write this, is also taking his lumps on several New York-area radio stations). As I’ve noted in the past, these are not typically fun times for owners and GMs. By design, they don’t speak frequently during the season and end up getting hit with a multitude of questions that the press is tired of asking the head coach. Or, they are hit with questions that are above the head coach’s pay grade.
One major question mark was second-round pick Christian Hackenberg, who sat the entire 2016 season despite three different quarterbacks going down or getting benched ahead of him.
“This will be a big offseason for him,” Maccagnan said, via NJ.com. “We’ll have a better feel for it when we get to training camp next year.”
When asked if he regretted drafting Hackenberg, Maccagnan had this to say:
“You make the best decision at the time,” Maccagnan said. “I’m not necessarily in the business of looking back. We’re focused on making sure Christian can develop into the player and fulfill the potential we think he has.”
The question to Johnson about Bowles’ future and the question to Maccagnan about Hackenberg are significant because they seem tied together. Bowles cannot win in the AFC East without a sustainably good offense. He cannot have a sustainably good offense without a good coordinator. He cannot get a good coordinator without a good quarterback. He cannot get a good quarterback if the one drafted for him is so behind schedule that he did not play in 2016. Luckily for Bowles, it isn’t necessarily playoffs or bust next year.
There is no doubt this will not be a fun or light offseason for everyone involved in making the Jets better. The team is locked in with the sixth pick in the draft and will be under immense pressure to satisfy an increasingly suspicious fan base. Johnson was wise not to place any undue pressure on the coaching staff that isn’t already there just like Maccagnan knows he can’t bury a quarterback that may need to start games for him next season. But where will this all lead?