Woody Johnson scurried down the hallway, fleeing from the barrage of questions hurled his way.
The Jets’ owner had nothing to say to reporters after Sunday’s 30-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. His decision already had been made, though.
Coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will be back with the team in 2017.
Though there was speculation that Bowles was on the hot seat long before the Jets stumbled to a 5-11 season — the first time they finished with that record in franchise history — the coach wasn’t sweating out Johnson’s decision. “I knew I would be here,’’ he said, “so it really wasn’t a big deal.”
A team spokesman said Johnson will speak to the media “in the coming weeks.”
It was the 12th time in the franchise’s 57 seasons that the Jets finished with at least 11 losses, but it guaranteed that they will have the No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft.
Even with Bowles back for the 2017 season, his staff is expected to look a lot different. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey likely will be one of the coaching casualties, and more are expected to be announced in the coming days. “I’ll discuss all that as I get into the process next week,” Bowles said.
The Jets will look to overhaul the roster, too, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick one of the most likely players to not be re-signed. The Jets also could part ways with Sheldon Richardson, Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, David Harris and Calvin Pryor.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Fitzpatrick said after completing 20 of 30 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. “We had fun out there today and I’m glad we were able to end it with a win.”
Despite the unknowns of the upcoming offseason, players agreed on one thing: Firing Bowles would have been the wrong move. “He’s the right guy for New York,” cornerback Buster Skrine said.
“You don’t fire a guy after one bad season,” Richardson added, referring to the Jets’ 10-6 finish in 2015. “That’s just not smart. Who wants your job if they’re going to have one bad season and they’re done. He’s a great coach. Had a tough patch this year. It’s not all on him. It’s mostly on us. We just didn’t make plays early enough and often enough.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis — who acknowledged recently having a brief conversation with Bowles about possibly switching to safety — also applauded Johnson’s decision to retain the coach. Revis also highlighted one of the team’s biggest issues this season: locker-room chemistry.
According to Revis, things began falling apart during their 24-3 loss to the Chiefs in Week 3. “I think during that game we weren’t on the same page as players,’’ he said. “It happened on the sideline and then it trickled into the locker room after the game.”
Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions in the game and Bowles had to break up an argument between Richardson and Marshall in the locker room. The infighting and the lopsided defeat left “a dark cloud” hanging over the team, Revis said.
“Adversity always strikes for a team,” he added. “We tried to nip it in the bud. We actually did and moved forward and thought we were OK. We thought we had guys who were mature enough to handle the situation and move forward, but eventually it unraveled for us after that point.”
Richardson, however, saw the Kansas City game in a different light. “I wouldn’t say a ‘dark cloud.’ I mean, a cat’s true colors came out,” he said. “I wouldn’t put [the Jets’ disappointing season] all on one game or one argument with a teammate.”
Asked if he could “coexist” on the same team with Marshall, Richardson said: “No comment.”
Receiver Quincy Enunwa also called Bowles a “great coach” and placed the blame for the Jets’ disappointing season on the players.
“I think it was just about us, as leaders, on the team kind of policing ourselves,” Enunwa said. “We just have to come together, listen to what he’s saying, and I think a lot of guys have to focus on themselves and work on what they’re doing wrong.”
HOPE IS NOT LOST
Take heart, Jets fans, better days could be around the corner. This is the Jets’ 12th season with 11 or more losses, but they have rebounded with .500 or better seasons seven of the 11 previous times they lost 11 or more games:
Year W-L Coach Following Season
2014 4-12 Ryan 2015: 10-6
2007 4-12 Mangini 2008: 9-7
2005 4-12 Edwards 2006: 10-6
1996 1-15 Kotite 1997: 9-7
1995 3-13 Kotite 1996: 1-15
1992 4-12 Coslet 1993: 8-8
1989 4-12 Walton 1990: 6-10
1980 4-12 Michaels 1981: 10-5-1
1977 3-11 Michaels 1978: 8-8
1976 3-11 Holtz, Holovak 1977: 3-11
1975 3-11 Winner, Shipp 1976: 3-11