How Will Todd Bowles Fit With the New York Jets?
The New York Jets have spent the last five years being defined as Rex Ryan's team, but that's no longer the case.
But after removing the defense-first Ryan, the Jets have ultimately decided to take on another defensive mind: Todd Bowles.
Was Bowles really the right hire for Gang Green? Or will there be more of the same (i.e. losing) in New York's near future?
Bowles' Track Record
Bowles actually has a winning record as an NFL head coach, though I'm being facetious. While serving as the assistant head coach and secondary coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2011, Bowles went 2-1 in an interim gig after the team fired Tony Sparano.
But where else has Bowles been? And what might it mean for New York?
Bowles' NFL coaching career began in 2000, when he took over as the secondary coach for the Jets. There's a pretty long list of gigs thereafter. As for his first three, he was a secondary coach -- with New York in 2000, with the Cleveland Browns from 2001-2004 (and was their nickel package coach from 2001-2003), and with the Dallas Cowboys from 2004-2007.
We'll break there and examine how those secondary units have fared in terms of our metrics. Our go-to metric, Net Expected Points (NEP) indicates how well above or below expectation a team performs. Here are the Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play metrics, including the league ranks for each.
|Year||Team||Adj. Defensive Passing NEP per Play||Rank|
Bowles' teams, interestingly, posted a top-three rank in the metric each time Bowles joined the team. Then, the marks fail to live up to that expectation.
Still, he's never had a pass defense that ranked outside the top 20 in those seven years, which is promising, and he's shown flashes of owning elite units.
What about in a larger role? Bowles was the assistant head coach and secondary coach for the Dolphins from 2008-2011, including that three-game stint as an interim head coach. He took over as the secondary coach for the Eagles in 2012 (and became interim defensive coordinator) before his final stop before New York: Arizona, where he was their defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.
How did these units fare? I'll show you the same metrics but include Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play when he was in charge of the whole defense.
|Year||Team||Adj. D Pass NEP per Play||Rank||Adj. D Rush NEP per Play||Rank|
Bowles' stead in Miami didn't offer too much promise, and being thrust into a defensive coordinator role in October with Philadelphia didn't work out too well for him, but Bowles', in his first real opportunity as a full-time defensive coordinator, delivered with the Cardinals.
In 2012, the year prior to Bowles' arrival, the Cards ranked second in pass defense (-0.08) and 10th in rush defense (-0.04), so he didn't have much of an overhaul to worry about. The Jets this year ranked 21st in pass defense (0.10) and 20th in run defense (0.01), so it's not quite the same. Still, Bowles kept the Cardinals' defense intact despite a season-ending in jury to Darnell Dockett and a struggling offense this year.
The Right Choice?
It's hard to deem this choice right or wrong considering that Bowles has little to no track record as a head coach, and we don't yet know his plans for the tepid offense that is the Jets depth chart.
The Jets' offensive metrics were bad this year, ranking just 23rd overall in Adjusted NEP per play, and there is no reason to believe that it will fix itself.
Geno Smith ranked just 28th in Passing NEP per drop back this year. Of the 43 backs to see at least 100 carries, Chris Ivory ranked 24th in Rushing NEP per play (-0.04), and Chris Johnson was 26th (-0.05). Aside from Eric Decker no Jets pass-catcher ranked inside the top 85 in Reception NEP. Lots of work needs done on offense, and that's not necessarily Bowles' forte.
Bowles, based on his history in the league, has the potential to put forth one of the best defenses in the NFL, but he also has plenty of instances of a below-average pass defense. I don't doubt that Bowles will be able to get the most from his players in 2015 -- he did it for the last two years -- but unfortunately for the Jets, the trouble runs deeper than coaching. Until personnel improves -- particularly on the offensive side of the ball -- things might be more of the same for the Jets until Bowles can find ways to improve that offense.