New York Jets' grass wouldn't have been greener without Bowles and Maccagnan

Jets brass saw enough strides by Bowles and Maccagnan to give short extensions

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New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, right, speaks during a press conference introducing the team's new management, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J. Mike Maccagnan, the team's new general manager, listens at left. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) — Julio Cortez

Remember when the Jets this offseason were supposedly poised to "tank" 2017 to position the franchise to try and solve its longstanding QB puzzle?

Clearly, Jets ownership — which announced contract extensions, reportedly of two years, for head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan on Friday — remembers.

After all, the Jets, following an 0-2 start, have a chance with an upset in Foxborough on Sunday to finish 6-10 after last season's 5-11 debacle on the heels of Bowles' and Maccagnan's 10-6 debut 2015 that was little more than a mirage.

No, 6-10 isn't generally worth celebrating, but it isn't tanking — far from it — either. And considering the tough decisions Maccagnan had to first make last offseason, purging the roster of many of its most expensive — and underachieving — veterans to clean up the club's salary cap, 6-10 is a credit to him and his coach for squeezing every ounce from a roster in transition.

The Jets' QB puzzle remains, to be sure. But Maccagnan found one of the NFL's better bridge guys this season in Josh McCown, who, after enjoying a career year in his age-38 15th NFL season, should be a priority re-signing before the Jets take their most earnest swing at an answer behind center since drafting Mark Sanchez in 2009.

The Jets shipped off malcontent John Idzik holdover Sheldon Richardson to Seattle, acquiring not only the Seahawks' 2018 second-rounder but a productive wideout in Jermaine Kearse. Maccagnan's early-round draft record is spotty — with the jury very much out on Darron Lee and not having enough Christian Hackenberg evidence with which to deliberate — but he found a star in Leonard Williams and a potential 10-year safety valve duo in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.

Maccagnan unearthed 2016 UDFA wide receiver Robby Anderson, one of the NFL's more improved players this season, and a few additional bargains in reclamation project Austin Seferian-Jenkins and reclaimed tackling machine Demario Davis to replace released stalwart David Harris.

Bowles' baby — his defense — remains a work in progress but he wisely identified offensive coordinator John Morton to replace retired Chan Gailey and oversee what's been one of the league's more surprisingly productive offenses. The effort and stability that were too often lacking from last season's group hasn't been questioned under Bowles this season —save for loafing Muhammad Wilkerson, whose cancerous traits Bowles hasn't allowed to seep into the rest of a roster making great strides culture-wise.

Wilkerson's albatross 11th-hour contract, which he'll be released from after just two seasons and $36 million guaranteed, was a mistake of massive proportions. The decision to draft Hackenberg with the 51st overall pick two springs ago, only for the quarterback to fail to get on the field, looked at the time and appears to remain ill advised.

But with likely more head-coach vacancies come Monday than qualified candidates, the Jets apparently decided the grass would've been greener by starting over again. And we tend to agree.

This was a huge job Maccagnan and Bowles were entrusted with when they originally received four-year deals in 2015 to rebuild a 4-12 team with little worth salvaging from the Rex Ryan regime. And the two-year extensions the Johnson family settled on gives Maccagnan and Bowles just long enough to try and maintain the continuity and improving team culture while attempting to get the quarterback position solved.