FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Woody Johnson insists he’s like a lot of New York Jets fans: frustrated after a brutal season and hungry for success.
The team owner is preaching patience, though, and to trust in the process.
That’s why Johnson is bringing back Todd Bowles for a third year, an unpopular decision for some who preferred the Jets start over from scratch after a 5-11 season.
“I understand their anger,” Johnson said Thursday. “You’ve just got to be confident in what we’re trying to do.”
That would be sustained winning and making the postseason, something the Jets haven’t done in six years.
It’s the longest drought in Johnson’s tenure since he took over the team in 2000, and the worst for the franchise since the 1992-97 seasons. Both Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will be charged with trying to get the Jets back to the playoffs.
“I think continuity, in some ways, allows you to have success,” Johnson said. “Changing a lot of moving pieces makes it a lot more difficult. No. 1, I have a lot of confidence in Todd and Mike and their staffs or I wouldn’t do it. I think over time, their plan is going to yield what you’re talking about.”
Despite that, Johnson is not demanding that Bowles and Maccagnan deliver the Jets a playoff appearance next season.
“No, I don’t really like mandates because they normally don’t work,” Johnson said. “Lines in the sand or whatever. You don’t want to judge it that way. The way we’ll judge it is getting better each and every year and seeing it in our young players. Are they getting better, or are they going the other way?”
Johnson insisted he’s still very much in Bowles’ corner.
“I have the same feeling about him — very, very smart, played the game, understands it from a player’s standpoint and coaching standpoint,” he said. “None of that has changed.”
Johnson also believes the Jets are heading toward an upward trend based on the performance of young players this season. Rookies such as wide receivers Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Jalin Marshall, linebackers Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins, right tackle Brandon Shell and cornerback Juston Burris were all contributors with bright outlooks.
“All the great teams are built this way,” he said. “This is what you have to do.”
That said, Johnson doesn’t want any type of rebuilding process to be “too long-term.” He emphasized improving the team through the draft by getting “younger, faster, smarter and so on,” but will also use free agency — “judiciously,” he said — and possible trades.
“I’m in the game of winning, so any time I don’t win, I’m disappointed,” Johnson said. “We do this for our fans who want us to win. This is their team and when they don’t win, they’re disappointed. I don’t blame them. I’m disappointed.”
Johnson repeatedly referred to the Jets’ “plan,” saying fans need to know that the team cares just as much as they do about winning.
“I’m like the fans, I mean, I’m not essentially patient,” he said. “But I know that planning is the only way you can get anything done long-term. You’ve got to stick to your plan.”
He also reiterated that he believes in both Bowles and Maccagnan, who were both hired after extensive searches two years ago. Johnson said the duo can handle the negative times — like now — as well as the positive times.
“They will get this done, in my opinion,” Johnson said. “I have confidence that they have a plan looking into the future that will make the team better and they have a way of judging accountability and judging performance in a way that really accurately measures what’s going on.”
Johnson was then asked if he believes his current coach and GM will be able to deliver him the franchise’s first Super Bowl since 1969.
“I wouldn’t have them if I didn’t,” he said. “I’m not in here to come in second place.”
In other items Johnson discussed:
• Johnson said it’s just speculation that he’s under consideration for a spot in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration as an ambassador to the United Kingdom, although he says it’s an honor to even be mentioned in such discussions. ProFootballTalk reported this week that if Johnson were appointed to the post, he would hand control of the Jets over to his younger brother, Christopher Wold Johnson.
• He said the team hasn’t decided what it’s going to do with ticket prices, “but we probably won’t raise them.”
• Johnson doesn’t regret the one-year, $12 million deal the Jets gave to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who struggled all season and was benched twice. “No, because it looked like the right decision at the time we did it,” the owner said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a quarterback and as a person.”
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