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Johnson, Ryan Address Jets’ Past, Present, Future

Posted Jan 8, 2013

Updated, 12:55 p.m. ET

Jets CEO/chairman Woody Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan held their long-awaited season-wrapup news conference this morning, and the duality of the Green & White's situation came through clearly.

Johnson talked about the extreme disappointment of the Jets' 6-10 season and how it's affected not only him and his organization but his fan base.

"Our fans are very passionate. They feel very strongly. They're going to lash out and express their feelings," Johnson said. "I don't blame them, quite frankly. We want them to care. I listen to them. We work for the fans. We want to produce something better. ... I feel very confident in the process we have here, the people we have in the building, our commitment to winning. There's no shortage of effort, no shortage of brainpower. I feel really good about the direction of the New York Jets, where we're going to go from this point forward."

And Ryan talked about his coming up short this past year but also the newness of his quest to take the Jets into the future, especially with the shortcomings on offense

"It's not a question of if it gets done — it has to get done. I've failed to this point [on offense], but I have confidence in myself and this organization that we will succeed," Ryan said. "I'm approaching this day like it's the first day, period, my first day as a head coach," he said. "Obviously now I have four years of experience, but that's how I'm looking at it. It's the same challenge I was given four years ago, the same challenge to move this team forward. This is a new chance for me and that's how I'm approaching it."

The 40-minutes-plus news conference, held nine days after the Jets' season-ending 28-9 loss at Buffalo to cap their first season under Ryan with a losing record, was more about the short- and long-term future of the franchise than a post mortem on the 2012 season.

Both men addressed the several changes that have already made, beginning with the search for a new general manager that began with the dismissal of GM Mike Tannenbaum the day after the season ended.

"We're looking at somebody who can guide this team to the next level of success, and really, change the dynamic that yields more consistent success on the field," Johnson said, adding that Ryan is a part of the process of finding the Jets' next top football executive being conducted by Los Angeles-based search firm Korn/Ferry. "In terms of specific characteristics, I can't get into that yet. The candidates we're talking to are exceptionally good. Each one brings something different. I'm encouraged with what I'm seeing so far."

"I'm never going to say anything negative about Mike because in all cases the positives outweigh the negatives," Johnson said of Tannenbaum, who was a part of Bill Parcells' front office when Johnson purchased the Jets in 2000. "I have a lot of respect for Mike. He's a hard worker. But I felt we had to go in a different direction with this team to get us to where we want to be."

Among the other changes announced at today's news conference:

■ Ryan confirmed the dismissal of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano after one season at the offense's helm, a change he said he finally made "last night, after thinking about it for a long time."

Ryan said he appreciated Sparano's hard work in the coordinator's office and admitted the look of the offense changed drastically under Sparano with the season-ending injury to WR Santonio Holmes and the long injury absences of TE Dustin Keller and rookie WR Stephen Hill. But he also said that he felt he may have contributed to his championing of a "ground-and-pound" attack being misinterpreted.

"That ground-and-pound mentality fit our football team, but I want to be more of an attack style of team, whether running the Pistol or different types of offenses," he said. "As hard as we are to attack on defense, I want to be the same way on offense. ... Just the kind of attacking and unpredictability we have on defense, I think we need to be filtered throughout this football team.

"Maybe I misjudged the thing about 'No, I just want ground and pound,' that type of mentality. Maybe I bought into that more than I should have. Maybe I needed to be more open-minded and look at things a little differently. We have to have it, have that kind of mentality," of attacking and unpredictability in all three phases.

■ Ryan said his working relationship with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has ended after 10 years together and the last four with the Jets. "Mike thinks it's best that he go to a different team as a defensive coordinator," Ryan said. "I wish him all the best, unless he goes to Buffalo. But I love Mike and I respect him."

■ Retiring special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff will be succeeded by assistant ST coach Ben Kotwica, who's worked under Westhoff since arriving in 2007.

■ Matt Cavanaugh, the Jets' quarterbacks coach the past four seasons, "is not going to be here," Ryan confirmed.

■ The head coach confirmed strength and conditioning coach Bill Hughan has been dismissed and has been replaced by assistant strength coach Justus Galac, who joined the Jets a year ago.

Both the coach and owner deferred any decisions on their incumbent QBs, specifically Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, for a while until after the new GM and OC are installed.

"I'll just say this: The situation, whoever the offensive coordinator is, his system and all those type of things, there's going to be a lot of things going into it," Ryan said. "Money, the financial part of it will not have any consideration. We'll play the player that fits what we do best, what we believe gives us the best chance."

Specifically about Tebow, Ryan said, "Tim is under contract right now with our football team. That's something I know." And Johnson said, "We're not going to make any player determinations until we get our offensive coordinator in place."

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