Bowles’ sinking Jets bottom out with 41-10 loss to Bills
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The locker room was eerily quiet as New York Jets players got dressed, packed their bags and headed for the exits.
Their 41-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday was as ugly as it gets. And it further cast doubts on the future of coach Todd Bowles.
“Everything that could’ve gone wrong,” Bowles said, “went wrong.”
The hot seat under Bowles reached a boiling point as the Jets (3-7) got completely manhandled by a Bills team that was led by Matt Barkley , who hadn’t started in nearly two years, and entered with a league-low 96 points and had two touchdowns in its previous four games.
New York has now lost four in a row heading into its bye-week break. Whether Bowles will still be in charge when the Jets play again on Nov. 25 against New England seems immediately uncertain. But the coach spoke like a man approaching things like business as usual.
“We’re going to take a long, hard look at everything this week, coaches and players,” Bowles said. “We’re going to try like hell to win our last six games.”
This loss, and the way it went down, could give owner Christopher Johnson pause when evaluating the future. It has seemed like a forgone conclusion to many that Bowles would not be back after the season. This latest loss, though, had many wondering if the coach will be back after Sunday.
Johnson declined comment to reporters after the game when asked if he was considering a change.
Many of the players insisted that the struggles can be attributed to lots of people, not just Bowles.
“T-Bowles is not the problem,” safety Jamal Adams said. “I’m going to ride with T-Bowles until the end. I don’t care what the fans say. It’s T-Bowles. I’m going to support my coach through thick and thin.”
Well, consider this the thinnest of thin.
New York started 39-year-old Josh McCown in place of injured rookie Sam Darnold, but he couldn’t prevent a brutal loss in front of a frustrated fan base that booed lustily throughout.
McCown was 17 of 34 for 135 yards with two interceptions, and the Jets finished with just 199 total yards.
“That’s the first time I felt like somebody really smacked us,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said, “and we didn’t do nothing about it.”
Barkley sparked Buffalo’s bumbling offense with two touchdown passes, including one to offensive tackle Dion Dawkins, LeSean McCoy broke out of a season-long slump with 113 yards rushing and a pair of TD runs, and the Bills (3-7) were in control before many fans had settled into their seats.
On Barkley’s first play, he launched a 47-yard pass to Robert Foster. On the next play, Barkley handed off to LeSean McCoy, who scored his first touchdown of the season with a 28-yard run that gave Buffalo a 7-0 lead 49 seconds in.
“Honestly, we didn’t expect to come out there like that,” Adams said. “We didn’t expect this game to go like that. We didn’t come out there and execute.”
Barkley and the Bills took a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter on a fluky play. On third-and-7 from the 11, Zay Jones caught a pass and took it 10 yards before fumbling as he reached for the goal line. Tight end Jason Croom recovered in the end zone for a touchdown that was upheld by video review.
The 14-play, 73-play drive was prolonged by a fake punt on fourth-and-6 from the Bills 47 when the ball was snapped directly to tight end Logan Thomas, a quarterback at Virginia Tech. Thomas then completed a 19-yard pass to Foster for the first down.
“I don’t feel like anybody quit,” Claiborne said. “I just feel like the way the game went, it was their day coaching and their day playing.”
Perhaps the biggest sign of that came midway through the second quarter when Dawkins lined up as an eligible receiver on first-and-goal from the 7. Barkley, of course, found the 6-foot-5, 320-pound lineman wide open for a touchdown.
“We got our (butts) kicked,” Adams said. “It’s as simple as that.”
The boos from the frustrated fans at MetLife Stadium got louder at that point, and eventually turned into chants of “Bye Bye Todd!”
Claiborne said he didn’t hear those, but insisted he is standing by his coach.
“I have Todd’s back, 100 percent,” Claiborne said. “He’s a guy who definitely knows football, knows what he’s talking about and knows how to coach his players. ... I have nothing but love for him. Where we’re at is where we’re at right now. We’re trying to win with who we’ve got right now, period, point blank.”