Jets owner Woody Johnson supports Rex Ryan
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan may appear to be on the hot seat this season, but Jets owner Woody Johnson offered nothing but praise for the fifth-year coach.
"I think he's a great coach, a good teacher, a good leader," Johnson told reporters Wednesday. "He has a good sense of humor, and he's in a good frame of mind. I'm very happy with Rex."
Asked if he still believes Ryan is "perfect" for the Jets -- a sentiment he shared in January following the firing of former general manager Mike Tannenbaum -- Johnson said: "Yes, why not?"
But he wouldn't go so far as to guarantee Ryan will be coaching his football club in 2014 -- the same year the coach's contract expires.
"We're not going to discuss the evaluation of coaches during the season," Johnson said. "We do that after the season."
New GM John Idzik also tried to steer clear of discussing Ryan's long-term future with the team -- though he was effusive in his description of their working relationship.
"I only know one Rex," Idzik said, redirecting a question about the change in Ryan's public persona. "I know the Rex that I've been working alongside since I got here in January. It's been a true joy. He's been marvelous to work with. I think he's done an outstanding job."
Asked whether the decision to keep or fire Ryan would be his call -- or a collective decision, the GM said: "We're not going to get into that. We're so shortsighted. Let's let the season play out. As we said with the quarterback situation, anything that comes up, let's not be too premature with things. Let's let it play out and we'll collectively get together and discuss it."
Asked earlier in the day about not getting assurances about his future, Ryan didn't seem bothered -- at least publicly. "I've never been the focus and shouldn't be ever," he said. "I'm just happy. I get to coach this year."
Despite back-to-back non-winning seasons the past two years, Johnson said he was "very optimistic" about the 2013 Jets. And so was Idzik. "We like our guys," said the GM.
It still remains to be seen how the Jets -- and specifically Johnson -- truly feel about Mark Sanchez. Asked whether he still views the veteran as a franchise quarterback, the owner simply said: "He's a very, very good quarterback. Franchise quarterback is something, I think you can debate the term, but he's in the competition for the job at the New York Jets and he still is in the competition."
At a Super Bowl XLVIII in Manhattan Wednesday morning, Johnson said Sanchez -- who injured his throwing shoulder against the Giants two weeks ago -- should have protected himself on the play. The Jets owner later clarified his comment, saying: "It's not his fault he got hurt. No player wants to get hurt." We don't talk about any of that. I mean, we're all in right now as a team. The team is put together, so there's no speculating.On the Huddle Mobile, which will visit communities around the area: "Yeah, it's a way to get it out, because the stadium itself only holds 83,000 people, so it's a way for everybody, kids in both New York and New Jersey to get kind of a feel of the excitement directly."