When Woody Johnson entered the visitors’ locker room at SunLife Stadium back in December, the room erupted when told Rex Ryan would remain the head coach of the Jets for at least one more year.
It was an emotional celebratory ending to a surprising 8-8 finish. But despite all the reverie following their 20-7 win over the Dolphins, the Jets still were a team that had missed out on the playoffs for a third straight season. And that still doesn’t sit well with Johnson.
“Well, you know, 8-8 was good, but I wasn’t satisfied, that’s for sure,” the owner said Wednesday. “We’re not satisfied unless we go further than that. But our expectation is we’ll work very, very hard and diligently. This is our second year with the QB (Geno Smith). This is the second year with (offensive coordinator Marty) Mornhinweg, so I think we’re going to be more comfortable with the playbook.”
Johnson said he enters each season expecting to make the playoffs. And 2014 is no different. But even though it’s still early, the Jets appear – at least on paper – to have more offensive weapons than they did last season.
Asked if he thinks this squad is better than the team that defeated the Dolphins in Week 17, Johnson smiled and said: “Absolutely, but that’s not unique. I’ve felt that every year. But, I think we have. We took all our picks. It looks like we made some good improvements on offense and defense and special teams. I think the team looks younger in some ways because we’ve got all these new guys. So, it’s our job to train them up and the culture in the locker room.”
Johnson admitted he’s no different than any other Jets fan. At times, he struggles to remain patient in the face of errant passes, self-inflicted wounds and mounting losses. “It depends on the day and when. I have to moderate myself a little bit,” he said. “But I’m just like a fan in that respect. When we lose or when we make dumb mistakes, which we’re going to make, we’re going to make dumb mistakes, you get a little agitated.”
But he’s learned to avoid making rash decisions when it comes to his roster and his personnel.
“I have to represent the team,” he said. “In my own mind, not every owner would do this, I have to have a little bit of a longer-term view. If we lose a game I have to thank each and every player that comes off the field. Sometimes that’s hard. It’s hard for them. It’s hard for me. But I have to because they gave what they had that day and if I’m convinced of that then I do thank them.”
Asked if he needs to see results or if he’ll be satisfied with the team moving in “a positive direction,” Johnson said: “As I said, we take it game-by-game and what we have and injuries, if any, we hope none, and how our young guys pan out and how the team comes together. Like I said, the team is different every year. So, what team will show up on day one, we’ll have to see. I’m encouraged and I’m optimistic.”
Here are some other tidbits from Johnson’s session with the media today:
On if he is in favor of expanding the playoffs…
"There are good arguments on both sides and I haven’t gone into it in maybe the depth that we will. We’re going to study it hard. But, I kind of like it. I kind of like the idea of more playoff games. We’re still below other sports."
On how hard it would be to not make the playoffs four straight seasons…
"I’m not looking at it that way. What I am looking at is getting better each and every day. Whether it’s the weight room or being out here and we get a lot of penalties like we did yesterday, they were throwing flags kind of wantonly. We just have to tighten it up and we have to focus. Each and every player has to focus on getting better and helping his teammates and covering their back and doing all the things you do as a successful team. You talk to any of the Super Bowl teams, it’s because the guys hung together and they have this camaraderie that really you need. And that doesn’t happen because I say it. It happens because they feel that they want to do it."
On if they will try to host another Super Bowl…
"Absolutely. It was fun. It wasn’t the best game in the world, but it was a challenge. You realize the enormous challenge of putting one of these things on. It’s only a couple hours for the fans. It’s three years for us. (President and Chief Executive Officer of the 2014 NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Company) Al Kelly did a superb job I think, just an absolutely magnificent job putting all the pieces together and then we handed it over to the NFL. I think we did a great job. Yes, I’d love to do it again."
On how season ticket sales are doing…
"They’re going well. We’re doing well. I think the fans are optimistic and there’s a good vibe going on right now."