Jets owner Woody Johnson wasn't satisfied with 8-8 season in 2013
There were no win-or-else edicts from Jets owner Woody Johnson, who delivered an impromptu state of the team a few yards away from where his team was in the midst of a late-morning minicamp practice session. No playoff mandate for Rex Ryan to keep his job into 2015, even though Ryan hasn't been to the postseason for the last three years -- a virtual eternity in the NFL.
But Johnson did express some notable dissatisfaction with his team off last year's .500 season, and made it seem that even his noteworthy patience has limits. Missing the playoffs again this season could at least give him a reason to think about changes that go beyond the kind of roster moves you saw from his team this past offseason.
"Eight and eight was good, but I wasn't satisfied, that's for sure," Johnson said. "We're not satisfied unless we go further than that."
Johnson made no threats about Ryan's job security, which was resolved just moments after the Jets beat the Dolphins to end the 2013 regular season, when the owner told his team that Ryan would be back this year.
Win or else for Ryan in 2014?
"We take it game by game," Johnson said. "The team is different every year. What team will show up on Day 1, we'll have to see. But I'm encouraged and I'm optimistic."
He should be. It's a quality roster and Johnson ought to consider this team worthy of making a playoff run. It's a solid young team that added plenty of pieces in the offseason, especially to an offense that needed a boost.
Geno Smith goes into Year 2 with a receiving corps made better by the signing of free agent Eric Decker, the return of David Nelson and a solid cast of wideouts behind them. Michael Vick, who backs up Smith for now, has the potential to rescue the offense if Smith falters. The tight ends look better with the return of Jeff Cumberland and second-round rookie Jace Amaro.
The offensive line looks solid, and the addition of Chris Johnson to a backfield that already features hard-running Chris Ivory and the shifty Bilal Powell makes an already good running game even better. No Mike Goodson, who was released after failing to show up for minicamp, but he didn't contribute much last year and wasn't worth the headache with all his off-field problems.
The defense still needs a pass rusher to emerge, but the addition of first-round safety Calvin Pryor, third-round cornerback Dexter McDougle and free-agent corner Dmitri Patterson to go with incumbents Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson provides much needed depth. Linebackers David Harris and DeMario Davis offer a terrific one-two punch inside. Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are two of the league's best young defensive linemen.
It's not quite a complete team, and Smith can't be considered a franchise quarterback just yet. But this should be considered an ascending team, and Johnson has every reason to believe things can and should get better. General manager John Idzik has added plenty of quality young talent his first two years on the job, and while there are still some holes to be filled -- a legitimate pass rusher, another big-time receiver and some more help in the secondary are needed -- there is enough here to field a winning team.
If I'm Johnson, I'm disappointed if this team doesn't build on the gains of last season. And while it's too soon to consider changing the coach -- Ryan deserved to be back this season, no question -- there would be legitimate reason to revisit the situation if this year's team underachieves.
Injuries aside -- and you always have to factor them in, especially if there are losses at key positions -- Ryan has enough to win with. Enough to get into the tournament, even with a challenging schedule that features games against the AFC West and the NFC North.
For now, Johnson would rather not ponder the possibilities of going a fourth straight year without the playoffs.
"I'm not looking at it that way," he said. "What I am looking at is getting better each and every day, whether it's the weight room or being out here [at practice]. Each and every player has to focus on getting better and helping their teammates and covering their back and doing all the things you do with successful teams."
"You talk to any of the Super Bowl teams, it's the guys that hung together and they have this camaraderie that you need. That doesn't happen because I say it, it happens because they feel they want to do it."
Johnson hopes one day to talk about his own Super Bowl team, although there is still a ways to go before that day comes. Even so, this team should be a meaningful step closer to that goal this year. And if that step is not taken, then Johnson will have good reason to think about just how much longer he gives Ryan.