The last time long-suffering Jets fans showed up at MetLife Stadium, they were subjected to a humiliating Monday Night Massacre that had many screaming for the head of Todd Bowles.
That was after they had screamed for the head of Ryan Fitzpatrick, and gotten it after the first half.
Such is the life of the long-suffering Jets fan these days. And on more days than they care to remember.
Because of rain in the forecast, because some long-suffering Jets fans have lives on Saturday night, there will be fewer boo-birds when the Dolphins arrive, and precious few eager to boo young Bryce Petty, the People’s Choice. Barring an unforeseen Buttfumble.
But when you are a long-suffering Jets fan, when your team is 4-9 and you expected it to contend for a playoff berth, your DNA mandates there be a scapegoat, and with the journeyman quarterback out of the way, it is the second-year head coach who is Next Man Up.
It is doubtful the long-suffering Jets fan will heap praise on Bowles for his team fighting back in San Francisco to edge the horrific 49ers, so suffice it to say he had better have his Jets prepared to give Matt Moore and the Dolphins hell — instead of the long-suffering Jets fan when he steps back into MetLife.
Of course it turns out the Mike Tannenbaum Dolphins, under rookie head coach Adam Gase, are the surprise playoff contenders, and the long-suffering Jets fan won’t soon forget the night Chad Pennington, discarded by Woody Johnson in preseason 2008 for Brett Favre, rode back into town and beat a broken-down Favre 24-17 to win the AFC East in the regular-season finale.
But guess what? Fitzpatrick and Darrelle Revis and Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson had worse years, and Eric Decker and Nick Mangold and Ryan Clady were injured, and good luck winning with that win-now team.
In the meantime, until general manager Mike Maccagnan remembers how to be Magic Mike again, it will be in Bowles’ best interests to give the long-suffering Jets fan an inspired, motivated team Saturday night, and on New Year’s Day against Rex Ryan and the Bills — in what is expected to be Ryan’s last game as Buffalo’s coach.
It was five years ago in the visiting locker room at FedEx Field where John Mara, whose Giants had just beaten the Redskins to finish 10-6, yet missed the playoffs, passionately explained why Tom Coughlin would return as his head coach in 2012.
“In this society everybody wants to fire the coach all the time,” Mara barked. “The Yankees got knocked off in the playoffs and everybody wants to fire the manager. Well, we don’t do that here. He’s going to be our coach.”
The circumstances were different for Mara than they are for Johnson, given that Coughlin had been his coach for seven seasons and had delivered a Super Bowl championship three years earlier. But the rewards for stability and continuity are there for Johnson to see up the road in East Rutherford.
The good news for Bowles is the owner kept Eric Mangini for a third season following a 4-12 sophomore season. The bad news for Bowles is the owner whacked him following a 9-7 third season.
Jim Harbaugh isn’t walking through that green-and-white door. Rex II? Fat chance. Barring an unseemly collapse now, Bowles should be kept for that third year.
“We all respect him,” safety Rontez Miles said, “and he’s a man of his word.”
It’s much harder for his word to be heard without a franchise quarterback. Maybe Bryce Petty can help Bowles weather the storm.