The Jets, flexed out of prime time a week earlier, got a stand-alone close-up on Monday night. And it wasn’t pretty.
“For the first time this year, we got our ass handed to us,” coach Todd Bowles told reporters after the 41-10 loss to the Colts, the biggest win by the Colts over the Jets since a 52-19 victory in 1975 . . . in Baltimore. “That’s very disappointing from a physical standpoint. . . .
“I thought they kicked our ass. I don’t think we had a lot of effort. I’ll see the film. I’m sure there are some people who showed up, but for the most part, we got our ass kicked. . . . It’s very troubling when you get your ass kicked.”
To his credit, Bowles made no excuses nor deflected blame: “All of it falls on me. I’m the head coach.”
So is Bowles concerned that his second year with the Jets will be his last?
“No,” Bowles said. “You know your job is in jeopardy when you take one of these jobs.”
That matter-of-fact calm demeanor has been one of Bowles’ strengths. With the season, and perhaps his job, crumbling, it could quickly becomes a liability — because it may send a message he doesn’t really care as much as he should.
And he should seem to care more than he does. The calls for Bowles to be fired have begun; Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, for example, writes that it’s time for Bowles to go.
“Why give him a third year when 28 games into his head coaching career he has proven he’s not the right man to end the Jets nearly half-century Super Bowl drought?” Myers writes. “No need to make a bad situation even worse. This is a multi-billion dollar business and you can’t give away seasons.”
Of course, that same argument could be made in the direction of Bowles’ boss. And the question becomes whether owner Woody Johnson would blow out G.M. Mike Maccagnan along with Bowles, or whether Maccagnan — the man who has assembled the quarterback clusterfudge that has delivered nothing this year — should get a chance to both hire a coach and find a competent signal-caller.
One major factor in the final analysis surely will be the instant success the Giants have realized by making big changes after the 2015 season.
That same season brought so much hope for the Jets after they nearly qualified for the playoffs. This year, they’ve been eliminated with four games to play.
One of those games will be played in 11 days on NFL Network, at home against the Dolphins. The Just End the Season season then ends in Week 17 with a visit from Rex Ryan and the Bills.
At this point, the question may not be whether Bowles is fired at the end of the season, but whether he even makes it through the final 25 percent of it.