Jets fire coach Bowles after third losing season

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — For the second time in four years, the New York Jets are in the market for a head coach.

Todd Bowles, who presided over one of the worst three-year stretches in franchise history, was fired Sunday evening in a long-anticipated move.

Ownership decided against a complete overhaul, opting to retain embattled general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was hired the same day as Bowles in 2015.

Maccagnan and Bowles were thought to be a tandem — their contracts run concurrently — but Maccagnan was spared, in part, because he flipped the roster in a massive rebuild and acquired promising quarterback Sam Darnold.

Maccagnan will work closely with CEO Christopher Johnson in the search for Bowles’ replacement, the team said.

“I would like to thank Coach Bowles for his dedication to the New York Jets for the last four years,” Johnson said in a statement. “After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take. I would like to wish Todd, Taneka and their family only the best.”

Essentially, ownership placed the blame on Bowles, who went 24-40 in four seasons, including 21 losses in his past 27 games. The Jets (4-12) were competitive in almost every game this season, but they sabotaged themselves with ill-timed penalties and late-game meltdowns.

This was the Jets’ eighth straight year out of the playoffs, tied for the third-longest active streak in the NFL.

“We just haven’t gotten it done,” Bowles said last week. “We haven’t been able to put it together.”

The Jets probably will try to hire an offensive-minded coach who can help develop Darnold, who showed encouraging signs after a midseason slump. Their last head coach with an offensive background was Rich Kotite (1995-96).

In recent weeks, Bowles repeatedly declined to address his job security, but he had been telling friends that he expected to be fired. He is signed through 2020 after receiving a two-year extension at the end of last season.

Going into this season, Johnson refused to issue a playoff mandate, saying he would evaluate Bowles based on progress. Bowles was held to the same standard in 2017, the first year of a major roster overhaul, and he was widely praised for the way he handled a young team that lacked talent at most positions. The Jets finished 5-11, but it was good enough to land Bowles the extension.

Maccagnan received the same extension, fueling the perception he and Bowles were a permanent tandem.

The Jets got off to a 3-3 start, with Darnold flashing his potential, but the season unraveled with a six-game losing streak. The low point was a 41-10 home loss to the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 11 that preceded the bye week. Instead of firing Bowles during the break, ownership decided to ride it out until the end.

Until Sunday’s 38-3 loss to the New England Patriots, Bowles got the team to play competitively in the final weeks, but the Jets blew fourth-quarter leads in three December losses. They squandered 16- and 15-point leads against the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers, respectively.

Ultimately, it was the defense — Bowles’ bread and butter — that doomed the Jets. That unit allowed 441 points, the second-highest total in franchise history for a 16-game season.

Bowles almost made the playoffs in his first season. Needing a win in the finale to clinch a wild-card spot, the Jets were upset by the Bills on the road 22-17. In a way, they never recovered, going 14-34 since.

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