Todd Bowles likely back, but several big-name Jets will receive pink slips
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The last time they played on New Year’s Day, the New York Jets went public with their infighting. It was Jan. 1, 2012, the day of the infamous Santonio Holmes-Wayne Hunter altercation. Ah, such memories.
Would anybody be surprised if they ring in the New Year on Sunday with a Brandon Marshall–Sheldon Richardson sideline spat? It would be an unfortunate, yet fitting way to end a rotten season marked by locker room turmoil.
It will be a grim scene at MetLife Stadium, where the Jets (4-11) have won only once in seven tries. The twice-benched Ryan Fitzpatrick, in his final game as a Jet, will be leading an injury-riddled offense that couldn’t find the end zone with the Waze app. The Buffalo Bills (7-8) fired coach Rex Ryan and benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor because they didn’t want to be on the hook for his contract in the event of an injury, so we know how they’re approaching the game.
Welcome to the dark side of the NFL’s regular season.
“It’s tough,” Fitzpatrick said. “They’re out of the playoffs, we’re out of the playoffs. We’ve been out of the playoffs for a while. We’ll have some young guys, I think, maybe get some experience at receiver or running back or wherever it is in line. I think it’s just another opportunity to go out there for all of us to focus on playing the game we love and trying to have fun with it.”
1. Waiting on Woody: The biggest question surrounding the team is the future of the Todd Bowles-Mike Maccagnan tandem — and it’s really not a huge mystery. Barring an 11th-hour change of heart, owner Woody Johnson is expected to retain his coach and general manager, giving them a mulligan for 2016. Johnson has been leaning this way for weeks, according to people close to him. It won’t be a popular decision, but it’s the right decision. It has been an awful year, but it would be a knee-jerk reaction to fire them after only two years. Could a blowout loss change his mind? Johnson has been known to flip-flop. Ask Eric Mangini.
2. Say goodbye: There will be a massive — repeat, massive — roster overhaul in the offseason, so this could mark the final game in a Jets uniform for many household names. Players on the bubble include Marshall, Richardson, Darrelle Revis, David Harris and Calvin Pryor. Marshall, Harris and Revis are potential cap casualties, with Richardson and Pryor candidates for the trading block. Revis and Harris are future members of the Ring of Honor. Frankly, I think Harris will stick, but Revis is a likely goner. Maybe he can make his first interception of the season in his final game.
3. A cameo for Hack? Fans will see Christian Hackenberg in a uniform for the first time since the preseason. With Bryce Petty (shoulder) on injured reserve, Hackenberg will be the No. 2 quarterback, one of the 46 active players for the game. Much to the chagrin of the fan base, Bowles isn’t planning to play the rookie, except for maybe late mop-up duty. That means there’s a good chance he’ll get significant action, considering nothing this year has gone according to plan.
4. Draft implications: No matter what happens, the Jets will draft fourth, fifth or sixth. They’re currently in the No. 6 spot, which is where they’d stay with a win or a Chargers loss. To get to No. 4, they’d have to lose and the Jaguars, Bears and Rams would have to win, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
5. Hard-to-believe stats: If the Jets don’t make an interception or recover a fumble, they will finish with only 11 takeaways, tying an NFL record for the fewest in a season. The Bills have committed a league-low nine turnovers. Still, if the Jets can’t intercept EJ Manuel, shame on them. … The only times they finished 1-7 or worse at home were 1996 (0-8) and 1989 (1-7). … The Jets have scored six or fewer points in a league-high four games.