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Keidel: Might Serve Bowles Best To Sit Darnold For Game Or Two

Jets Have Fallen to 3-6

Jason Keidel
November 06, 2018 - 11:18 am
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While the NFL sets records for scoring this season, the Jets and Dolphins played a game as ugly as the rain-soaked field in South Florida, setting offense back to the single-wing. 

After seven weeks, NFL clubs scored 5,146 total points, the most in league history. Meanwhile, the only touchdown scored during that 13-6 eyesore on Sunday was by defense, a pick-six by the victorious Dolphins with 11 minutes left in the game. 

The Jets are now 3-6 and the calls for patience are fading. After their Week 1 drubbing of the Detroit Lions, the Jets have gone 2-6 and Sam Darnold has regressed from the young core of the Big Apple to a baffled rookie who just tossed four interceptions and zero touchdowns. And at some point someone is going to be blamed for the twin-troubles of Darnold's struggles and the team's mounting losses. 

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That person will be head coach Todd Bowles. And though this slice of cyberspace has always defended the beleaguered Bowles, and has led the unpopular call for patience, the NFL is a business, and wins are its currency. When you consider all the touchdowns being scored, and the army of offensive coordinators being bumped up to head coach, men like Bowles are becoming endangered. 

These two games against the Dolphins and the Bills were seen as a barometer for the Jets, who could have emerged 5-5 with two wins but now look to split the two games for a 4-6 mark through ten games. If the Jets lose at home this Sunday to a Buffalo club that just got vaporized, at home, by the Chicago Bears, they will be 3-7 and then the schedule becomes an oil-slicked ladder up the standings. 

Out of their final six games, the Jets play the Patriots twice, the 6-3 Houston Texans, and host Aaron Rodgers two days before Christmas. Throw in a road game against the gritty Titans, who just muscled past the Cowboys in Dallas, and it's easy to envision a 5-11 or even 4-12 record for Gang Green in 2018. If we assume the former is their final mark, that would make the Jets 15-33 under their last three full seasons under Bowles.

It's too easy to blame the quarterback, especially after the Jets just lost to Brock Osweiler, whose career has been so bad the Browns let him go. Yet Miami is in the thick of the playoff hunt, while the Jets look increasingly lost. The Jets have always played hard for Bowles, but such comforts are fleeting if they don't win. 

And fair or not, NFL owners look longingly out west, where Sean McVay has not only turned the Rams into a juggernaut, but also remolded Jared Goff from a wayward rookie into a franchise quarterback. With the constant wave of groupthink dictating who gets hired and fired, the offensive coordinator is becoming the head coach du jour. McVay, Sean Payton, and Andy Reid have the league's best records right now, and all made their bones on offense.  Doug Pederson, who just won a Super Bowl coaching the Eagles, also learned his trade as an offensive coordinator (of the Chiefs) and as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay. 

As Boomer Esiason has asserted this week, the Jets would likely have won more games with veteran backup Josh McCown under center. It might serve Bowles to sit Sam Darnold for a game or two, grab a win or two, and save his vocational hide. If Darnold is so delicate that watching a few games from the sideline will bruise his ego beyond repair, then he wasn't the QB we thought he was. 

Or Bowles can stick with Darnold, pray that he has an epiphany this week, and sparks an unlikely run. Either way, the Jets cannot lose to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. If they do, they will likely lose 12 games, apologists like yours truly, and their head coach at the end of the season.  

Twitter: @JasonKeidel