FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Jets close out the season, and Todd Bowles’ time as Jets coach, Sunday against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Jets won’t make it official until after Sunday’s game, but Bowles’ time with the team is ending, and he will be fired either Sunday night or Monday morning.
Can the Jets send him out with a win? Not likely.
The Jets enter this game 4-11 and Bowles is 24-39 as the Jets’ coach in four seasons, with 10 of those wins coming in his first year.
“The record says it all,” Bowles said this week when asked about his job performance this season.
Bowles has looked like he was on the way out for more than a month ever since the 41-10 thumping the Jets took at the hands of the Bills in November. But the Jets have played hard for him down the stretch, winning one game and losing three in the fourth quarter when they blew leads.
The 10-5 Patriots enter this game with the AFC East already wrapped up for the 10th straight season, but they can get a first-round bye with a win over the Jets. They also still have a shot at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and losses by the Chiefs and Chargers.
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The Patriots have now won the division in every year that Bowles and his predecessor, Rex Ryan, have been the Jets coach. The last time the Jets won the division was 2002 when Herm Edwards was in charge. It underscores how difficult it is living in a division with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
“With our record it’s difficult to be in any division,” Bowles said. “Divisions come and go, they’ve won it for a while. When you don’t win it’s difficult, regardless of who’s leading the division. You just have to win your share and try to win.”
For Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, this is his first taste of playing the Patriots. He was injured when the two teams played earlier this season. Darnold has shown major improvement since returning from his sprained foot. He has six touchdown passes and one interception in the last three games.
After facing Aaron Rodgers last week, Darnold gets to stare down another future Hall of Famer in Brady.
“There’s always something there whenever you’re playing Brady, guys like Rodgers and everything like that,” Darnold said. “For me, I grew up watching those two play and dominate, so at the same time, I’m not just going to ignore the fact that I’m playing those guys. I know that I am and I want to step up … mot that I don’t want to play well when I’m going up against those guys, but there is a little something extra there.”