Fu­ture cloudy for Jets and fans

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Dennis Waszak Jr.

Th­ese are tough and uncertain times for the New York Jets and their fans.

Turn on lo­cal sports ra­dio or check Twit­ter, and the frus­tra­tion and des­per­a­tion oozes right out of the speak­ers and jumps off the screen.

It’s open sea­son on just about ev­ery­one, from owner Woody John­son to gen­eral man­ager Mike Maccagnan to coach Todd Bowles to quar­ter­back Ryan Fitz­patrick and cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis.

That’s what hap­pens when the team is 3-8 af­ter high hopes just a few months ago — and the fu­ture is omi­nously cloudy.

“Some­times in life, you take body blows,” wide re­ceiver Bran-

don Mar­shall said. “We all get hit and we all fall down and it hurts. It’s dis­ap­point­ing, it’s scary and there’s a lot of frus­tra­tion and there’s a lot of emo­tions there.

“You’ve just got to pick your­self back up and deal with re­al­ity.”

Af­ter a 10-6 sea­son, led by Fitz­patrick’s fran­chis­ere­cord 31 touch­down passes, huge years by Mar­shall and Eric Decker and a solid show­ing by Bowles’ de­fense, the next step for the Jets was ex­pected to be a play­off ap­pear­ance.

They fin­ished a win short of that a year ago, and a daunt­ing early sea­son sched­ule did lit­tle to tem­per those hopes within the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Then, the losses be­gan pil­ing. So did the in­juries and the crit­i­cal mis­takes.

“We’ve hit stum­bling blocks through­out the year,” Mar­shall said.

And, now, the Jets are here: They’ll likely miss the post­sea­son for the sixth straight year.

Bowles’ seat is get­ting warmer by the week in only his sec­ond sea­son and many fans are an­gry.

The clus­ters of empty

seats at MetLife Sta­dium on Sun­day were as clear a sig­nal that they’ve had enough with the los­ing as the ban­ners that flew around the prac­tice field im­plor­ing John­son to clean house two years ago.

It would seem that Bowles is safe, at least to get to next sea­son. But his re­peated de­ci­sion to stick with Fitz­patrick rather than turn to sec­ond-year quar­ter­back Bryce Petty for the fi­nal stretch of games has been met with a col­lec­tive shak­ing of heads from fans who have al­ready put this sea­son aside and want to start plan­ning for next sea­son.

“Frus­trated. It’s def­i­nitely not what you want,” Bowles said of this sea­son. “None of us got to th­ese po­si­tions by not han­dling ad­ver­sity or go­ing through ad­ver­sity. We just have to keep fight­ing and keep swinging.”

But Bowles’ in-game man­age­ment has been crit­i­cized, and the rev­e­la­tion that de­fen­sive line stars Muham­mad Wilk­er­son and Shel­don Richard­son were late for a team meet­ing ear­lier this sea­son had some won­der­ing if cracks in the foun­da­tion are start­ing to show.

“No, no coach­ing change,” cor­ner­back Buster Skrine said. “Todd

Bowles is a great coach. We just need to fin­ish (games). Coach can’t go out there and play the game.

“Ob­vi­ously, he’s coach­ing us well enough to get us in sit­u­a­tions to win. We just have to make plays at the end of the game.”

Such as in Sun­day’s loss , when Tom Brady marched the Pa­tri­ots down the field 83 yards for the go-ahead touch­down.

Five of the Jets’ eight losses have been by mar­gins of 10 points or fewer, and the blame from fans and me­dia has of­ten been di­rected at the coach­ing.

“They all hurt the same,” Bowles said.

Many Jets fans, how­ever, aren’t sure where to turn to feel bet­ter. Well, other than that high draft spot.

Fitz­patrick is a free agent and so is Geno Smith, leav­ing Petty and Chris­tian Hack­en­berg as the only signed quar­ter­backs on the ros­ter head­ing into the off­sea­son.

Re­vis has stun­ningly gone from be­ing a shut­down cor­ner­back to look­ing like a shell of him­self. He’s due $13 mil­lion next sea­son and his $15.3 mil­lion salary cap hit could make him an off­sea­son ca­su­alty.

Mar­shall is sched­uled

to make $7.5 mil­lion next year, and Decker is due to make $7.25 mil­lion.

“You never know in this busi­ness,” said Mar­shall, when asked if he thinks he’ll be back be­fore adding that he’d like to re­tire some­day with the Jets.

Cen­ter Nick Man­gold has played all 11 of his NFL sea­sons with the Jets, but his $9.075 mil­lion cap hit could have him look­ing for a new team next off­sea­son.

New York looked into trad­ing Richard­son dur­ing the dead­line this year, and could be even more in­clined to make a deal this off­sea­son with him sched­uled to make $8.069 mil­lion with the fifth-year op­tion on his rookie deal.

That’s a whole lot of money and fa­mil­iar faces that could be cleared from the ros­ter.

There are still five more games to go be­fore all of that, though. Bowles hopes there are a few wins along the way.

“You have to keep fight­ing and you have to be­come smarter at the same time, and only then will we get bet­ter,” he said. “We’re work­ing on that ev­ery day. We’re fight­ing go­ing for­ward and we’ve been through ad­ver­sity be­fore and we’ll come out of this one.”

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