Just a few hours removed from an overnight hospitalization for what turned out to be kidney stones and gall stones, Bowles made it to the Gillette Stadium sideline on Saturday. Once there, he watched the Jets author one of their worst performances in years in a 41-3 loss to the New England Patriots.
Afterward, several players criticized the Jets' effort and sensed the club was mailing in a game at the end of a lost season. It's a damning indictment of everyone involved on a day in which defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson implored teammates to win the game in honor of Bowles.
"Guys weren't ready to play," second-year defensive tackle Leo Williams told ESPNNewYork.com. "We didn't really play with a lot of passion, a lot of enthusiasm. It seemed like we were out there, going through the motions."
Even before Saturday, no one could accuse Bowles - who arrives at the Jets' complex well before dawn most days - of going through the motions. But will famously impulsive owner Woody Johnson take into account Bowles' borderline unhealthy obsession with his job when deciding whether or not to bring him back for a third season?
Johnson is known for being easily swayed by public opinion. Bowles is not a popular figure with the fanbase at the moment, with the Jets at 4-11 and possessing the third-worst point differential (minus-154) in the NFL.
And Jets' history suggests a late-season embarrassment can lead to the firing of a young head coach. Johnson fired third-year head coach Eric Mangini in 2008, when the Jets appeared primed to win the AFC East before losing four of their final five games. In 1994, the Jets were in first place on Thanksgiving weekend but lost their final five games, a skid that cost rookie head coach Pete Carroll his job.
Bowles, who was scheduled to visit with team doctors on Monday, has more pressing matters on his mind at the moment. But Bowles, a veteran of nearly three decades in professional football, will understand better than anyone else if his work ethic and health issues aren't a factor in Johnson's decision.
"I don't worry about my job security," Bowles said following a 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 17. "It falls on me when I signed my contract."
Told that Marshall said he was "embarrassed" by the defeat, Richardson said, "He should be embarrassed."
Asked to follow up on his comments, Richardson demurred.
"No reason, he just should be," Richardson said. "He knows what he did."
Richardson and Marshall have been at odds since at least Week 3, when the two had to be separated in the locker room following a 24-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Richardson was further angered last week, when Marshall called Richardson's profane Snapchat video - which he posted a couple hours before a 34-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 17 - as "unacceptable."
Marshall struck a more conciliatory tone Saturday when Newsday asked him about Richardson's comments.
"I see a lot of my younger self in Sheldon," said Marshall, who had numerous off-field issues in his 20s but has become an advocate for mental health issues. "Hopefully he can keep growing."
Perhaps Richardson showed some maturity later Saturday, when he tried to minimize his comments.
"It's cool, bro, it's irrelevant. Scratch that comment," Richardson said. "Yeah, it's embarrassing to lose like that."
The exchange with Marshall is the latest controversy involving Richardson, whose belligerence has seemed to increase since the Jets tried dealing him at the trade deadline in Nov. 1. Five days later, he was benched for the first quarter against the Dolphins due to chronic tardiness to team meetings. Bowles also disciplined him following the Snapchat incident.
-- New York can't even win for losing.
The Jets fell from fifth to sixth in the 2017 draft order last weekend, even though they lost to the Patriots and the teams occupying the top three spots - the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars - earned rare victories.
The Chicago Bears (3-12) remain fourth in the draft order while the Jets and Los Angeles Rams are tied for fifth at 4-11. But the Rams would win the tiebreaker because their opponents have a .507 winning percentage pending the Detroit Lions-Dallas Cowboys game on Monday night. The Jets' opponents have a .523 winning percentage.
The Jets could still end up tied for the third-worst record in the league if they lose this weekend and the Bears and Jaguars win.