Jets' Todd Bowles calls out players for 'dumb mistakes' in loss to Titans

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, December 3, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Embattled New York Jets coach Todd Bowles, known for his mild-mannered demeanor, blasted his team for a "disgusting" performance Sunday -- an 11-penalty meltdown that moved him one step closer to his likely ouster.

The Jets lost their sixth consecutive game after blowing a 16-point lead, falling in the final minute to the Tennessee Titans 26-22 at Nissan Stadium.

Afterward, Bowles was livid.

"I don't know how many [penalties] we had, but it felt like we had one every play," he said. "It cost us, and it's disgusting."

On Monday, in a conference call with reporters, Bowles said the loss will stick with him for the rest of his life.

"This game will stick with me for the rest of my life. I've been in about three of them. This will go right up there with those games. You're at your wit's end for a second and then you come back and it's, 'How do we get better? How do we improve?' You go x, y, z and you keep moving," he said.

The Jets dropped to 3-9 and have lost 18 of their past 23 games under Bowles, who almost certainly will be replaced. His job was thought to be in danger during their recent bye week after a Nov. 11 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, but ownership decided to wait until the end of the season before making any decisions on his future.

Afterward, CEO Christopher Johnson spent longer than usual in the locker room, talking with his coach. The franchise hasn't fired a coach in-season since the 1970s.

Bowles usually spreads around the blame after losses, taking his share, but this time he put it on the players. Asked the tone of his postgame message to the team Sunday, he said, "Pissed off. Frustrated. Look in the mirror, just look in the mirror. We won't be a good football team until we're a smart football team."

He was particularly galled by the Titans' winning drive, which went six plays for 86 yards. The Jets imploded with three penalties: holding on Morris Claiborne, illegal use of hands on Jordan Jenkins and a face mask on Trumaine Johnson.

To a man, the players defended Bowles, insisting the collapse was their fault, not his.

"Jamal [Adams] said it in here earlier: [The coaches] are taking the fall because they're higher up, but a lot of times it's us making the mistakes," defensive end Leonard Williams said.

"We understand this is a business," he added. "The outside world will look at the guys up top first, and it crumbles down. That's how it is."

The Jets led the entire game until Corey Davis scored on an 11-yard touchdown catch with 36 seconds remaining.

"We played the same way the whole day, and just dumb mistakes at dumb times cost us ballgames," Bowles said. "That's why we're in the position we're in."

Once again, the Jets were undermined by their offense, which has scored only three touchdowns in the past five games. Their only touchdown against the Titans was an interception return by Johnson.

Penalties hadn't been an issue in recent weeks, but the old bugaboo surfaced Sunday in an ugly way: 11 penalties for 96 yards.

"We need discipline in here, period," Adams said. "It's not the coaches, man. That game is on us. We gave it to them. ... No disrespect, but it bothers me that we keep hearing [it's the coaches' fault]. It's not their fault."

Bowles, whose career record is 23-37, was handed a rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback, Sam Darnold, who sat out a third straight game with a foot injury. Bowles didn't have a playoff mandate from ownership, but his job was to show progress after last season's 5-11 record.

The even-keeled coach finally let his emotions show.

"I'm fuming," he said. "I may not show it here, but, yeah, I'm fuming."

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