EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets will head into their bye week under a cloud of uncertainty, with speculation swirling about the future of embattled coach Todd Bowles.
Bowles will meet with CEO Christopher Johnson on Monday morning, as he usually does, except this won't be a routine sitdown -- not after Sunday's embarrassing 41-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills before a booing crowd at MetLife Stadium.
"I don't worry about my job," Bowles told reporters after his fourth consecutive loss. "I don't talk about my job. I just try and get to the next game. It's a business when you sign up for it."
It would be out of character for the Jets (3-7) to make an in-season change -- they haven't done so since the 1970s -- but the frustration has reached the highest levels of the organization.
It was etched on Johnson's face as he emerged from the locker room, declining to stop for reporters.
"I'm not going to talk today," he said, not breaking stride.
The lack of energy on the Jets' bench, noted during the CBS telecast, was noticed by the team's hierarchy, which might not bode well for Bowles.
Bowles received a two-year contract extension (though 2020) after a 5-11 finish last season, the first year of a major rebuild. Going into 2018, Johnson said there's no playoff mandate for Bowles, indicating he'd base his evaluation on whether the team showed progress.
"We stunk it up as coaches, we stunk it up as players," Bowles said.
If Bowles keeps his job, he could try to shake up his coaching staff during the bye week. The obvious target would be offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, whose unit has scored only two touchdowns in its past 39 possessions. If he makes a switch, Bowles could turn to offensive line coach Rick Dennison, who has coordinator experience.
The downside to firing Bates is that he's the only coach on staff with a quarterback background, and that could hurt Darnold's development.
Upper management will base its decision, in part, on what's best for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, who didn't play Sunday because of a strained foot. The organization wants to create an environment that will help Darnold succeed once he returns to the lineup, which could be Nov. 25 against the New England Patriots.
Josh McCown, 39, filling in for Darnold, struggled in his first outing in nearly a year. He completed only 17 of 34 passes for 135 yards and two interceptions.
The latest loss was embarrassing on many levels.
Facing Barkley, the Bills' fourth starting quarterback, the Jets allowed five touchdowns to a team that had scored only eight in its previous nine games. The Jets got burned on a fake punt, allowed a touchdown pass to an eligible tackle and committed three holding penalties -- on the same play.
Asked if he was embarrassed, cornerback Morris Claiborne said, "Hell, yeah, That's the first time I felt like someone smacked us and we didn't do nothing about it. We didn't do nothing about it."
Linebacker Avery Williamson said it was "mind-blowing" that New York allowed 451 total yards to one of the most inept offenses in recent NFL history. He, too, called it embarrassing.
As bad as it was -- the Jets were outgained in the first quarter 186-1 -- the players backed Bowles. His most vocal supporter was safety Jamal Adams.
"T. Bowles is not the problem," Adams said. "I'm going to ride T. Bowles 'til the end. It doesn't matter. I don't care what the fans say. It's T. Bowles, man. I'm supporting my coach through thick and thin."
Linebacker Brandon Copeland said: "I don't think anyone in this locker room has given up on our coach or our coaching staff."
Bowles was angry after the game, telling the players they played "like s---," several players said. Afterward, he didn't duck accountability, saying, "We didn't coach well in any aspect of the game."
Bowles never shows much emotion, but he looked and sounded defeated after the game.
"We'll take a hard look at everything this week and try to recap and re-evaluate everything that we're doing, and try to put together a win when we get back," he said.