^By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.=
^AP Sports Writer=
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Todd Bowles remained confident, even as the losses and criticism mounted.
He believes he’s still the right man to lead the New York Jets, and the team apparently agrees with the coach.
After ending a dismal season on a winning note with a 30-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, the Jets are making no changes in leadership heading into what appears will be a busy offseason.
“I’m not going to take away from the team win today,” Bowles said. “I knew I would be here, so it really wasn’t a big deal.”
Bowles is 15-17 in his two-year tenure with New York, which hired him in January 2015 after firing Rex Ryan. He had been the subject of increased criticism by some fans and media in recent weeks because of a few ugly losses and questions about his in-game management and handling of the locker room.
But owner Woody Johnson opted to stay the course and give both Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan a third year.
“That’s great,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “It was a disappointing season this year and next year, Coach can get another stab at it and change some things around next year.”
As for the fans who lost faith in Bowles and are unsure he should be back, the coach had a message.
“It’s not about losing faith in me,” Bowles said. “It’s about winning ballgames. We don’t win ballgames, the stands aren’t full. We didn’t win ballgames starting out. I understand that the fans are frustrated. We’re frustrated as well.”
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Anthony Lynn is waiting to see if he’ll return with the Bills.
Two people with direct knowledge of the situation told the AP before the game that Lynn is the clear favorite to take over the job permanently.
One person called Lynn’s succession to replace Ryan_ fired earlier in the week by Buffalo _ as being “the working plan.” Another person said the final decision on general manager Doug Whaley’s recommendation rests solely with owners Terry and Kim Pegula.
“Until they tell me I’m not employed anymore,” Lynn said, “then I have to go back and get these evaluations done and look at our team and what we have to go after in the offseason.”
A third person with direct knowledge of the discussions told the AP that former Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley is a candidate to become the Bills’ defensive coordinator under Lynn.
“Guys respect him,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said of Lynn. “He’s revered in the room when he walks in. He commands the room. If he would be the guy, I’d be happy for him, for sure.”
Some other things to know from the Jets’ season-ending victory over the Bills:
SHUTDOWN SAFETY?: Revis reiterated his interest in possibly moving to safety next season after having a down year, which he attributed to age _ he’s 31 _ and injuries.
Revis, once considered the top cornerback in the game, is not a lock to return to the Jets because he’s scheduled to count $15.3 million against the salary cap next season. If he takes a pay cut, a change in positions with the Jets could be in the game plan.
DEPARTING JETS?: Revis might not be the only big-name Jets player who could be gone in the offseason.
Ryan Fitzpatrick , who threw two touchdown passes against Buffalo, is a free agent and played in what was likely his final game for New York. He came back on a one-year deal for $12 million, but struggled mightily.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, center Nick Mangold, left tackle Ryan Clady and right tackle Breno Giacomini could be salary cap casualties. Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson could be trade bait.
BUFFALO’S QB STANCE: Like the Jets, the Bills are facing lots of uncertainty at the quarterback position.
Tyrod Taylor was inactive because of a groin injury and the Bills could opt out of his five-year extension after this season. It’s unclear, however, if they would still have that flexibility if Taylor has a long-term injury.
EJ Manuel , who was 9 of 20 for 86 yards and lost a fumble in the start, is scheduled to be a free agent. That leaves just Cardale Jones, who was 6 of 11 for 96 yards and an interception after replacing Manuel to start the fourth quarter.
GROUND AND POUND: Despite the question at quarterback, the Bills had one of their best seasons with the running game.
With a touchdown run by Mike Gillislee, Buffalo increased its season total to 29 rushing TDs, extending a single-season team record. It’s also the most by an NFL team since Carolina had 30 in 2008.
The Bills might have gotten more if LeSean McCoy hadn’t left on the first play of the second quarter with a high right ankle sprain. X-rays were negative and he was upgraded to a “probable” return, though he didn’t get another carry.
TURNOVER SPREE: The Jets entered with just 11 takeaways and threatened the franchise mark of 13, set in 2014. New York recovered two fumbles in the third quarter and Revis got his first interception of the season in the fourth.
Doug Middleton also recovered a kickoff in the end zone after Gillislee allowed the ball to bounce, giving New York a 30-3 lead.
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