FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets CEO Christopher Johnson professed complete confidence in Adam Gase as a coach and leader. He said Gase is "a brilliant offensive mind" and still believes he will lead the Jets to success.
Johnson also said the Jets are in great hands with general manager Joe Douglas, and he continues to believe that Sam Darnold will be the franchise quarterback who can turn around the fate of the Jets.
Jets fans have been clamoring for Gase’s dismissal since last season when the team started 1-7. The way the Jets played Week 1 in Buffalo didn’t change that, but it also didn’t change how Johnson feels about Gase, who went 7-9 in his first year as coach.
"I have, first of all, full confidence in Adam," Johnson said outside the team’s practice facility on Wednesday. "I’ve seen him interact with this team. I’ve seen him lead this team. Look back to last year, he took a team that did so poorly in the first half of the season and held them together and they finished well.
"He has a lot more in him as a head coach than some of our fans are giving him credit for. And I understand. They want to see success, and I think that they will."
Once again, Johnson didn’t give a playoff edict. He said he will judge Gase on whether the team makes progress in his second season as coach.
"I’m looking for real progression over this season and I’m confident that we’ll see that," Johnson said.
This was the first time Johnson addressed reporters since last November, when he gave Gase a vote of confidence with the Jets sitting at 2-7.
When asked specifically on Wednesday why he believes in Gase, Johnson said, "I think he can work with and develop quarterbacks. I do continue to think that he is a brilliant offensive mind. He has my every confidence."
The Jets finished at or near the bottom of most offensive categories last year under Gase. In Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Bills, the offense seemed just as inept as last year.
Darnold led the offense on three consecutive three-and-out drives to begin the game. He struggled to get in any rhythm.
Johnson called the Jets’ performance "a mess." But he believes Darnold will "turn the page" and has faith that he will become an elite quarterback.
"I think we’ll see an extraordinary Sam," Johnson said. "I have every confidence in Sam. I think we’re going to see him turn into that quarterback that we all expected, shortly. I really do. I think he is an absolutely sterling quarterback."
Johnson also threw support at Douglas, while throwing shade at former general manager Mike Maccagnan, who was fired two weeks after the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson said he "absolutely" wishes he fired Maccagnan and hired Douglas earlier, believing the Jets would be in a better place now.
"There’s no question that I feel in better hands in terms of putting together a roster with Joe," Johnson said.
He also said he likes the moves Douglas made this offseason in building this roster, and that Douglas has complete "discretion" on how he puts the team together.
"We have to stay healthy," Johnson said. "I think we have a roster we can win with if we stay healthy."
Johnson also addressed the alleged troubling situation involving his brother Woody. The U.S. State Department found that Woody Johnson "sometimes made" racist and sexist remarks in his role as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Christopher believes his brother is innocent.
"As to the allegations, he’s denied it publicly," Christopher Johnson said. "He’s denied it to me. I’ve known him my whole life. We spent so much time together. I’ve never heard him utter a racist or sexist word or perform an action that was racist or sexist. I believe him."
It’s unclear when Woody Johnson will return and regain control of the Jets. But Christopher said he will have a bigger role than he did before his brother became ambassador.
The Jets have made the playoffs six times since the Johnsons took over in 2000. Christopher said the current streak of nine straight years missing the playoffs has been just as upsetting to him as it has to the Jets’ fans.
"I feel that too," Johnson said. "I’m, No. 1, a fan, and I’m really frustrated.
"Winning cannot happen fast enough. But the fans should rest assured every player, every coach, me, everyone in this building is focused on making this team a team that they can be proud of. I assure you we will do that."