FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Woody Johnson expressed complete joy about being back with the Jets and supreme optimism that they have the makings of a winning team with general manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh leading it.
Johnson was not responsible for hiring either man. His brother, Christopher, was acting Jets owner at the time while Woody Johnson served as ambassador to the United Kingdom under former president Donald Trump.
Now Woody Johnson is back as principal owner of the Jets and said he feels "a tremendous vibe" in the building and on the field. He said there is "great harmony" between Douglas, Saleh and team president Hymie Elhai and they work together "in a new and different way that I’ve never seen before."
Johnson has faith that the right people are in charge to finally make the Jets a winner and he thinks the fans should have it too.
"I feel it here with this team," Johnson said Wednesday outside the Jets’ training facility. "I feel something that could be special. But it’s too early. We’re getting better every day, we see our mistakes, we see how we’re progressing.
"We’ll do everything in our power to put a winning team on the field this year. Getting the right team in place, which I think we’ve done an incredible job so far, we’ll see how good it is."
Johnson was in England from 2017 until January of this year. He said he was honored to serve in that position, but he truly missed being owner of the Jets.
"It’s really great to be back and get back in the thing that I really love, and that’s football," Johnson said. "It’s hard to be away from something you love."
Johnson admitted he would be "pretty involved" in the day-to-day operations, but not with picking players or calling the plays. He said he would leave that up to Douglas and Saleh. He wants to provide them with whatever resources they need to turn the Jets into a winning franchise.
"We want to win," Johnson said. "It’s all about winning. We’re in the win business. We didn’t sign up for this to lose. None of our players want to lose. We’re not used to losing and we don ‘t want them to get used to losing."
The Jets, who are coming off a 2-14 season, own the longest current playoff drought in the NFL. They last played a postseason game in January 2011. Johnson wouldn’t predict or guarantee a postseason berth this season. But he’s "optimistic" due in large part to Douglas and Saleh.
Johnson likes Saleh’s passion and coaching philosophy and said he has "a unique ability to communicate." He praised Douglas’ direct and straightforward approach to everything.
"I’m in total sync with these guys," Johnson said. "I think Chris made some unbelievable choices and we’re lucky to get both of these gentlemen. I couldn’t be more excited. I’m very optimistic generally but I’m particularly optimistic now when I see what happens on the field."
Johnson tempered his enthusiasm a couple of time by saying the players are "in shorts." There are no pads and no hitting in minicamp, so there’s a long time to go before anything really will be known about this team.
The same can be said for rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who the Jets are banking on to lead this franchise to Super Bowls. It’s too early to really know what the Jets have, but Johnson likes what he’s seen thus far.
"He’s a talent for sure," Johnson said. "I know he’s a hard worker. He’s obsessive about tape. He watches tape all the time. He wants to get better . . . He’s as advertised."
Johnson only addressed one non-football related question. He was asked about the State Department report that alleged he made racial and sexist comments to his staff. Johnson said those claims were proven untrue after an extensive review and investigation.
"None of was substantiated. None of it," Johnson said. "This goes against my history and everything I’ve done for my entire life. It was something that really was very hard on me to listen to all that stuff. But it’s done. It’s concluded."