Jets offense will have to deal with Todd Bowles’ Buccaneers defense
Todd Bowles didn’t work out so well for the Jets as their head coach.
Bowles, though, has worked out quite well in his next life — as the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator.
That won’t be great news for Bowles’ former team on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, where the Buccaneers (11-4), on a quest to defend their Super Bowl title, play the Jets (4-11), who are simply hoping not to be embarrassed in their home finale.
Much of the talk entering this game — and rightfully so — has been about the Jets facing Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady.
It’s very possible, though, that Brady might be the least of the Jets’ worries on Sunday.
The Jets’ young offense — led by rookie quarterback Zach Wilson — facing Bowles and his aggressive blitz-happy defense might be their worst nightmare.
Never mind that the Buccaneers have good players who will be motivated as they fight for the NFC’s top playoff seed and home-field advantage.
Will anyone be more motivated to put a beating on the inexperienced and undermanned Jets than Bowles, who’s only three years removed from being fired by them after his four seasons as their head coach?
Will anyone be more satisfied with a victory over the Jets on Sunday?
The answer to both of those questions is no, though Bowles will never admit to harboring any such ill will.
Bowles may be the only coach on the planet who reveals less about his inner feelings in public than Bill Belichick, so he will absolutely not let on to anyone how much he’d like to destroy the Jets.
Bowles, who spoke to Tampa-area writers Thursday and was not available to New York media, was not asked about coaching against the Jets for the first time since he was fired.
“I don’t feel any redemption,” Bowles told The Post in the days leading up to the Super Bowl last year. “I’m harder on myself than anybody. When you don’t win games, you get criticism. In this sport, there’s going to be ups and downs. You’ve got to stay the course and stay who you are. You trust your coaching and the people that taught you. I stuck with that, and everything has worked out for me.”
Bowles went 24-40 as Jets coach, 14-34 in his final three seasons after going 10-6 his first year. As he showed in that comment from last year, Bowles is a standup coach who knew his results weren’t good enough.
Nevertheless, he was fired and replaced by Adam Gase, who was even worse in his two seasons, before being replaced by current coach Robert Saleh.
It’s human nature: When someone fires you, you want to make them pay, show them what they’re missing.
That’s part of why this matchup — Bowles’ savvy and aggressive defense, which has produced 44 sacks this season, against Wilson — has disaster plastered all over it for the inferior Jets.
Bowles, whose Tampa Bay defense is ranked ninth in the league in points allowed and 10th in yards yielded, is a bad matchup for Wilson because of his brilliantly disguised blitz packages.
Wilson and the Jets know it’s coming. But will he recognize it in time?
“I’m sure they’re going to bring pressure and do different things to try to confuse us,’’ Wilson said Thursday. “I think it’s going to be a good challenge for me. I feel like I’m prepared and I feel like we have a good scheme going into it and I just feel like I need to just stay focused and just be decisive with the ball and I think it’s going to be good for me.’’
Whistling past a graveyard?
“They’re an aggressive style,’’ Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “It’s a part of their DNA.”
From the side of the ball that doesn’t have to face Bowles’ defense, Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich dished praise for his counterpart.
“I think he is exceptional at what he does,’’ Ulbrich said. “I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect over the years for not only [what he does] schematically. He does some cool stuff, some interesting things, and he [gives the] quarterback some problems, some offenses some serious problems.
“I’ve always respected, probably more than anything, how hard his guys play for him. Tremendous amount of respect for him, a guy that was obviously a head coach here, and I think it won’t be long before he gets another opportunity.’’
Bowles, whose name already has been linked to a potential interview for the Jaguars’ head-coaching vacancy, was predictably dry when asked about that Thursday, saying, “I’m just focused on the team right now.”
Focused on his team and the one he’d like to annihilate.