Jets owner Woody Johnson interacts with players, coaches and front-office executives on a regular basis, but this time it was different. Deeply concerned about the direction of the team after a 3-6 start, Johnson called in all the key members of his football operation Tuesday to discuss ways to turn the season around.
He and team president Neil Glat met for about 45 minutes with general manager Mike Tannenbaum, coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff at the team's practice facility in Florham Park, N.J., in an effort to get the team headed in the right direction.
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A team spokesman confirmed to Newsday Saturday that the meeting took place, although he declined to be more specific about the details of the gathering. Public relations director Bruce Speight said Johnson met to "discuss how we can improve our performance moving forward." Speight also said the tone of the meeting was "calm and constructive."
Johnson is not believed to have issued any sort of ultimatum to anyone in the meeting.
A day after the sit-down, more controversy rained down on the team when a Daily News article quoted several players and team officials anonymously criticizing backup quarterback Tim Tebow. It was uncertain when those comments were made and by whom, although the only person quoted in the story, left guard Matt Slauson, said his comments were from an interview as far back as late in training camp.
Johnson told reporters on Thursday that he is extremely frustrated by the team's results. He did not tell reporters about the sit-down with his staff on Tuesday. Johnson said he is optimistic that the Jets can turn things around, starting with Sunday's game against the Rams in St. Louis.
"We're 3-6 right now, but I'm going into this game optimistically [that] we're going to win it, as I've been all season and the last 13 seasons, really," said Johnson, who purchased the Jets in 2000. "[We're] in a lot of pain this week, again for losing this game . It's a miserable experience for us, for the team, for me, I know for our fans, people in the media as well. This is a tough thing to lose any game, particularly as many games as we've lost this year. [It's] very, very tough and painful."
Johnson refuted the idea that he was behind the move to bring in Tebow as a way to promote sales of personal seat licenses (PSLs) and said the decision to trade for the Broncos quarterback was a collective one that involved Ryan and Tannenbaum.
"You guys have been accusing me with this phony story about me being more concerned with PSLs or cash or something else," Johnson said. "Listen, my job, one, two, and three, is to win games. That's why I got into football to begin with is to win games. It's not to sell PSLs or anything else.
"My job is to win games, that's where my passion is, that's what I want to do, that's why I'm spending all this time in this organization. It's not to sell PSLs or to sell hot dogs. It's to win games. That's my job, I take it very seriously, the coaches take it seriously and the players take it seriously. It doesn't have anything to do with that phony argument."
Johnson said he was upset by the negative criticism but downplayed the use of anonymous quotes to describe Tebow.
"Let me tell you something about anonymous guys," he said. "Anybody that's anonymous has no credibility. Anonymous people don't speak for the New York Jets. They really don't.
"I'm out here every day talking to players, looking at players, talking to the coaches, meeting with the coaches and the players, so I think I'm a reasonably good judge -- I'm not a coach, but I've been around this for 13 years now -- of what's going on. I see this team as really tight-knit.
"Maybe it's because of the stories that have been circulating recently, the unfair criticism and the anonymous criticism particularly, which is kind of cowardly, in my opinion. Put your name on it. If you have a criticism, hey, stand up and we'll be glad to talk to you about it."