A grim-faced Woody Johnson walked quickly through the concrete hallway beneath TCF Bank Stadium, where his pathetic team had just lost another game in mind-numbing fashion yesterday. Flanked by a security guard, his brother, Chris, and a handful of others, Johnson was asked if he had any comment about the state of his team after this latest loss pushed the Jets' record to 2-11.
Johnson continued walking, his back to his questioners, and gave a dismissive wave.
Not here. Not now.
It won't be much longer before Johnson offers his take on the state of his team. Even then, words won't be necessary. Johnson's actions will tell you all you need to know about how he feels. Once these next three games against the Titans, Patriots and Dolphins are over, Johnson will state his intentions.
And given the increasingly futile state of his team, it would be a shock if he doesn't completely blow up the operation and start anew.
It's what needs to happen.
Coach Rex Ryan, the overseer of the worst season since the Rich Kotite era?
General manager John Idzik, the architect of a roster at the heart of a stunning regression from last year's 8-8 season?
It is virtually impossible for Johnson to justify anything other than the biggest housecleaning of his 15-year run as the team's owner. Ryan has outlived his usefulness near the end of his sixth season -- and fourth straight without a playoff berth. And though it is unusual for a GM to be shown the door after just two seasons, it was an unusual and awkward setup from the beginning.
Johnson wanted to keep Ryan instead of letting Idzik choose his own coach, and Idzik was on board. The relationship showed some initial promise last season, as the Jets rallied late to finish .500. But with Geno Smith showing he simply isn't ready to be a franchise quarterback, and with Idzik putting Ryan in a win-now mode with a roster that was anything close to win-now, it will be hard for Johnson to swallow hard and entrust Idzik with selecting a new coach and investing another two to three years to see if it will work.
It doesn't guarantee that a new regime will succeed, but continuing along the same path isn't the answer, either.
An unusually toxic relationship has built up between Idzik and a restless fan base, some of whom have gone to great lengths to express their frustration with the bookish GM. Billboards near MetLife Stadium calling for his ouster, and a flyover at practice demanding the same thing, underscore how difficult it will be for Johnson to pledge his continued allegiance. Especially at a time when a GM with more of a personnel background would be better suited to making the roster moves that will lead to meaningful and sustained success.
Idzik is an intelligent and decent man who has worked tirelessly to transform this team into a winner. But when you're 2-11 with a quarterback you've selected as your answer at the most important position in the sport, and when your defensive backfield is a shell of what it needs to be, then there is a price to be paid. It's the bottom-line nature of this business. Cold and cruel, sometimes, but that's the way it is.
Idzik sat in stone silence alongside assistant GM Rod Graves as the Jets collapsed in overtime against the Vikings. What was there to say? It was another in a series of excruciating losses for a franchise that comes up with an astonishing assortment of ways to lose. This time, it was an 87-yard touchdown in overtime, as rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater recognized that the Jets were coming on a blitz and changed the play at the line of scrimmage. Bridgewater checked to a wide-receiver screen, hitting unheralded Jarius Wright on a short pass and then seeing Wright take off up the right sideline.
"Woody's competitive, he wants what's best for this football team," Ryan said afterward. "He's passionate and he wants to put a great product on the field . . . Obviously, I deserve a lot of criticism for the way this team's performed this season. I get that. But Woody doesn't. I can tell you that much. The Jets are in good hands with him as the owner, that's for sure."
After seeing his team find one more agonizing way to lose, Johnson knows his next statement needs to begin with big changes in the weeks ahead.