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New York Jets

Column | Jets tanking hurts players and puts Bowles in jeopardy

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles talks to reporters during NFL football practice, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

While other teams in the NFL have been frantically building their rosters for the 2017 season, the New York Jets have sat quietly waving the white flag. It’s no longer a question of tanking. The Jets have been flushed so deeply down the toilet they may never see the light of day.

They parted ways with Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and Brandon Marshall not long after the 2016 season ended. Then, they cut Eric Decker and 10-year defensive veteran David Harris. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan does deserve some credit for trying to explain away the tanking accusations with a straight look on his face.

“That’s not our focus,” Maccagnan told Conor Hughes of NJ.com.

He’s definitely right about one thing: Tanking isn’t the Jets’ focus. It has quickly become their reality. Not only have they played themselves out of the AFC East division, but they might have sealed their fate as the worst team in the league, period.

If anyone deserves remorse and sympathy, it’s the players and Jets head coach Todd Bowles.

The players will continue to play to the best of their abilities, despite being outmatched on offense, defense and special teams. Bowles will make due with whatever he has on the field and coach them up the best way he knows how, although being a head coach for the Jets right now could be compared to sitting in a burning building and pretending everything is OK.

One of the few remaining pieces of potential talent the Jets have left on offense, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, admitted it was hard to argue with the tanking accusations. It’s even harder not to feel sorry for a 25-year-old athlete stuck on a team that would rather lose than win, for a lottery draft pick.

“It’s hard to argue [with] that, when everybody else sees all the stuff that’s going on,” Enunwa told the New York Post. “It hasn’t so much changed my mindset. A lot of the guys just want to win. Whatever it takes. I know they cut some guys obviously, but that’s the business. I don’t think any player is going to tank. Our jobs are on the line. Our families [depend on us]. We’re out there to work and get our paycheck and win games. People are always going to say that kind of stuff, but we’re just going to play.”

Bowles will be the obvious fall guy when the losses start piling up, because someone has to take the blame for the impending disaster. It’s a sad situation for a strong-willed individual to experience in his first head coaching opportunity. It’s the type of ending that could set Bowles’ career back for years.

As for Enunwa, he’ll have the misfortune of being a restricted free agent in 2018, which means this Jets nightmare may not be ending for him anytime soon.

All either man can do is get comfortable sitting in the hole where hope used to be, waiting to be either fired or rescued. The latter might only be wishful thinking at this point.

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