Our New York Jets question of the week focuses on a topic that surely will gain momentum as the season progresses: Todd Bowles' job security.
Should jets brass give Bowles job security so he can focus on player development instead of getting 5-7 wins and not rebuilding #jetsmail
— Noah Kirschner (@nkirschn) August 18, 2017
@RichCimini: Five to seven wins? You're mighty optimistic, Noah. Here's the deal: No matter what happens over the next few months, Bowles is rebuilding and the focus will be on player development. What choice does does the Jets head coach have?
Except for the inevitable tinkering on cut-down day, the roster is set, and it screams, "Rebuilding!" The Jets charted their course in late February, when they started dumping veteran players. They can't turn back now. They have only four players over 30, including the long-snapper, so it's not as though they have a glut of older guys impeding the progress of young, promising players. Every young player with upside will have a role.
Ah, but there is one caveat: The quarterback position. That's where the issue of now versus the future likely will come up.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Bowles if the quarterback decision will be based on which player gives the team the best chance to win.
"Always," he said matter-of-factly.
That's a slippery slope, because there probably will come a point where Bowles will have to turn to Christian Hackenberg even if he's not the "best" option. In other words, at what point does he look to the future at quarterback?
A coach fighting for his job might wait longer than a coach with built-in security. A year ago, Bowles waited until the Jets were 3-9 before handing the keys to Bryce Petty. There's no way he can wait that long before turning to Hackenberg, assuming he doesn't win the job in the preseason.
Maybe Hackenberg will make it a no-brainer by overtaking Josh McCown, who is hardly entrenched in the starting role. That would make it easier on everybody. If not, it'll be a dicey decision, because the downside to a win-first approach is the Jets might actually win a few, hurting their draft position.
Ownership will evaluate Bowles after the season, deciding whether to part ways or extend him beyond 2018 (his final year) because a lame-duck situation wouldn't be good for anyone. Could Woody Johnson give him a contract extension now? It would be unusual, coming off a 5-11 season, but, hey, it's his money. It's not as though it counts against the salary cap. I suppose Johnson could make a verbal promise to retain Bowles beyond 2017, but ask Eric Mangini about Johnson's verbal promises.
In the end, if Bowles can get five to seven wins out of this team, he'll deserve a multi-year extension and a place in the Ring of Honor.