Jets give GM Maccagnan, coach Bowles 2-year extensions
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets are choosing stability over a shake-up.
The team announced Friday it extended the contracts of general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles, keeping the pair for at least the next three seasons through 2020.
The extensions are for two years each, according to a person with direct knowledge of the contracts. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.
“During their time here, they have worked together to help the organization build a foundation on which to grow,” acting owner and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “They are identifying, developing and getting productivity out of our players.
“I believe we are headed in the right direction.”
The announcement came two days before the Jets complete their season at New England. New York is 5-10 and will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight year and the third under Maccagnan and Bowles.
“This provides us continuity and stability as we continue to move this team toward sustained success,” Johnson said. “We still have a lot of work to do and I am excited to work closely with both of them as we move forward.”
The decision is not a huge surprise, although there was growing speculation on Bowles’ future as he completed the third year of his original four-year deal. He is 20-27 during his tenure with the Jets, and could be looking at his second straight 5-11 season.
But Bowles is credited with instilling a culture change among his players, who were in mostly every game this year. Seven of the Jets’ 10 losses have been by 10 points or fewer.
“We have a plan that we’re going forward with and everybody’s on the same page,” Bowles said.
Maccagnan oversaw a roster purge in the offseason that cleared big names and high salaries from the locker room, replaced by mostly younger — and less-expensive — talents.
Because of the heavy roster turnover, little was expected of the Jets going into the season. Some fans and media predicted New York would have a tough time winning just a couple of games, so a 3-2 start was one of the NFL’s early surprises.
Bowles stressed a team-first approach, adopting a “One Team, One Goal” slogan, which he had painted all around the facility as well as other motivational words on the doors and hallways. Throughout the season, players highlighted the team’s unity and the positive vibe despite rough stretches — and many credited Bowles.
“He understands how to coach players and understands how to get guys to buy into a program and really commit to it,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said.
Several players expressed their pleasure at the news on social media, supportive in the locker room of Bowles and Maccagnan coming back.
“I like stability and I like to be able to play for one coach and I like to be able to play in the same system for a while,” said defensive end Leonard Williams, who along with many teammates learned of the news from reporters. “It makes me comfortable and it makes me know who I’m playing for and who I’m playing with. I feel like a team is only going to progress when you have stability.”
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum pointed to the fact that Bowles has the overall respect of the players in the locker room.
“When you’ve got a coach that keeps it black and white, is not BSing, is not shooting smoke up your behind, that’s great as a player because you know exactly what you’re going to get,” he said. “Coach Bowles is consistent.”
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, scheduled to be a free agent this winter, believes the Jets are heading in the right direction.
“With Mike putting the roster together and Todd coaching the way he’s coached with all the great coaches we have here, it’s a testament to them,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “When we keep adding pieces, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I’m very, very excited for them and very happy for them.”
Bowles downplayed the decision, saying he’s focused on the season finale against the rival Patriots.
“It’s just business as usual,” he said. “We’re trying to win a game on Sunday and we’ll get ready for next year.”
Bowles and Maccagnan will have plenty to chat about in the upcoming weeks with 16 players scheduled to be free agents, including Seferian-Jenkins, quarterback Josh McCown, linebacker Demario Davis, cornerback Morris Claiborne and center Wesley Johnson. New York will have around $80 million in salary cap room this offseason, so they can be expected to be active in free agency.
The Jets will be in the market for a quarterback via free agency or the draft, where they currently hold the No. 7 overall pick.
New York will have to decide about defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, the team’s highest-paid player, who fell out of favor after repeated issues with tardiness.
There will be raised expectations, especially with fans decidedly mixed on Bowles staying. Some pointed to the competitiveness with which the team played, while detractors think the coach’s in-game decisions have left something to be desired.
“Obviously, I’m hard on myself, but I’m supposed to be,” Bowles said. “I’m always hard on myself. So I’ll take a long, hard look at myself next year and I’ll come back fighting.”