For starters, in 17 years under Woody Johnson’s ownership, the Jets are eight games under .500. This, by all means states inadequacy.
What caused this?
Johnson hasn’t shown much dedication to football matters regarding the team like other NFL team owners (Jerry Jones) do. The first item that comes to mind is the idea of spending money to obtain better talent. He has sometimes gone on spending sprees while in other years, he has backed off from that philosophy for some unknown reason. Johnson hasn’t been consistent in this area which disappoints the fan base immensely. Successful teams stand by this type of methodology creating a pattern of indistinguishability and culture that fans can get used to for a long time but not the Jets fans, thus far.
The last three general managers under Johnson all had different management approaches. First was Mike Tannenbaum who was a very aggressive deal-maker but he always gave too much guaranteed money in contracts which put the team in cap hell for a number of years. Then there was John Idzik who was a slow-builder. He didn’t last long, either, and you can probably guess why? It wasn’t a good marriage with him and Coach Ryan and they really didn’t have anything in common, either. Mike Maccagnan is the current general manager who possesses both predecessors’ traits.
See what I’m getting at now?
Then the coaches Johnson hired all had different styles. First, there was Herm Edwards who was basically a players’ coach which is not exactly what the team needed at the time. Eric Mangini followed who many fans liked, including me. He had some good seasons and had the team going in the right direction. He drafted nice players but losing four of five games towards the end of the 2008 season dashed any playoffs hope, so the team fired him. Then the Jets went back to another players coach in Rex Ryan. He also started off good, took the team to two AFC Championship games in the first two years. Then, like the prior coaches, the team began to lose. Bowles is the current coach who is a disciplinarian, just like Mangini was. Most likely, he will be given another two more years, to see if he can right the ship. The only thing all the coaches had in common was that they were defensive-minded coaches. As you probably know, they didn’t get the team to the Super Bowl. This probably also explains why the Jets haven’t had a good quarterback in a while with these type of coaches. Another common thing amongst them was none had prior coaching experience, either. That would explain the struggles the team had during their tenure.
In 2015 and 2016, the Jets had the third largest cash payroll using the win-now approach but they had an older roster then. They ended up missing the playoffs again and again. This probably is the reason why they went with the youth movement in 2017 letting go of the last two veteran players on the roster in Eric Decker and David Harris which signified commitment to one plan. It was a plan that was never instituted by the New York Jets since the other strategies weren’t successful. Let’s see if this one is, because they are certainly running out of plans.
Woody Johnson says fans should judge the 2017 season not so much on wins and losses, but rather, on how younger players improve throughout the season. Look at each individual on the team and see if they’re getting better. Improving is a sign of progress. That’s what they’re looking for. The biggest thing is for them to be patient.
The concentration on younger players and making sure the coaching staff is capable of teaching those players and getting them better is what has to happen. So, it’s a good sign, if the team is getting improving. To me, that means the team will end up having more wins than expected. Right?
They’ll be headed in the right direction with a chance of reaching the playoffs sooner than later. Fans shouldn’t be disappointed with this. But their patience could be running on fumes at this time. The ones that did, should be delighted because they hung in there for a long period of time.
Johnson’s comment doesn’t sound like it’s coming from an owner of a team. Certainly not from a businessman that he is. More like, someone who doesn’t understand the concept of a team trying to gel. That’s what really is happening in this case. So, it might be a good thing that Johnson will be far away from the team this year.
As for Coach Todd Bowles, his expectations are high for the 2017 season. How high you might ask? His goal is to get to the Super Bowl and he was being realistic about this comment. He knows they have to take steps being that there are a lot of guys that have to get acclimated chemistry wise right away. Progress for him is being a lot better than last year.
Every team in the NFL has that type of goal going into the season but for Bowles to expect that to happen with a different roster with younger guys is a bit off. First, they’d have to learn the systems which aren’t easy. What happens sometimes is the team cannot grasp the regular systems that are in place and have to take a step back. It would mean that they would have to use less complicated plays (vanilla packages) but that would be easier for teams to read and see. So, if this does occur, the Jets can find themselves having a very similar season to 2016 or even worse which they wouldn’t want. If not, they could end up winning more games than they did in 2016 but not go to the playoffs.
It turns out that when the Jets cut veteran players Eric Decker and David Harris it was solely due to Woody Johnson wanting to cut payroll in what seems to be a rebuilding season in 2017. The team slashed $13.75 million in cash payroll by letting them go. They were pretty much, the last of the veteran players on the roster that were primarily good.
One can say that Decker and Harris wouldn’t fit the mold with the current young roster and it probably wouldn’t have made a difference anyway by having Decker and Harris on the team because they won’t be close to reaching the playoffs.
Fans might think the team should’ve kept them because they needed some type of veteran leadership and to also have some sort of mix with young and somewhat older players. Many NFL coaches take that approach but the Jets changed that in 2017.
So by Johnson stripping the roster down, it certainly puts pressure on the younger players to step up and find a permanent spot. This is the right way to go now. The team is basically sacrificing the 2017 season and is already setting up a foundation through next year’s Draft and beyond.
You might be wondering now, why would Johnson decide to do this while still spending plenty of money during Free Agency and on other existing contracts? This question might sound insignificant but under the new CBA, the cap (max) for 2017 was $167 M per team. So each team must average around $158M. This requirement literally explains the Jets spending.
As a fan, I’d like to see the Jets take the field on Sunday, with always having a good chance to win. In 2017, there will be some doubt in games, with fans expecting them to play hard which is fine but it’ll still be hard to produce wins, especially when the Jets play the Patriots, Raiders and Chiefs this year.
Johnson has the right intentions in making such moves even if the team won’t be very competitive in 2017. Whether he made the right decision still has to be seen.