Jets owner Woody Johnson addressed the media Thursday and immediately expressed the utmost confidence in head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan.
“I’ve been talking to him the last couple of days, and I’m still very, very in his corner,” Johnson said of Bowles. “He’s very talented. I think he’s going to get better as we all are, including me, at what they do. So, I’m just so happy to have him. Both him and Mike.
While 5-11 was far from ideal, the 2017 season will not hold any playoff mandates from the head of the organization. Johnson told reporters that continuity allows success and believes the infrastructure that has been put in place will flourish down the road.
“From my standpoint, they have a plan looking into the future that will make the team better,” Johnson said. “And they have a way of judging accountability and performance in a way that accurately measures what’s going on.”
That plan for the future — dip into the fountain of youth.
“Well, I hope it’s not that long term,” said Johnson, regarding when the team would be successful. “We’re going to build the team through the draft. I think Coach and Mike know exactly what we’re looking for, what kind of players we’re looking for. By definition we’ll be getting younger, faster, smarter and so on. We’ll use the draft primarily and we’ll use free agency judiciously, trading and the rest of it. But mostly through the draft.”
The youth movement in Florham Park is already under way as the Jets’ active roster following Week 17 featured 33 players (62%) ages 25 and younger.
Over the last two draft classes, only two of the 13 selections have not started a game for the Jets. One of those players, second-round pick
But perhaps more impressive is the laundry list of players drafted in the fourth round or later under the Bowles/Maccagnan regime that have contributed to the team this year.
Bryce Petty(Rd. 4)
Juston Burris(Rd. 4)
Brandon Shell(Rd. 5)
Deon Simon(Rd. 7)
- P Lac Edwards (Rd. 7)
Charone Peake(Rd. 7)
“I think it’s the realization that we have to build young through the draft,” Johnson said. “It’s the way it’s done. Just having confidence in your drafting ability and your pro and particularly college scouts. Making sure that they’re accurately drafting the players that the coach is looking for to build this kind of team.”
Despite a tough season, Johnson’s confidence in both Bowles and Maccagnan was never altered because of the foundation he put in place two seasons ago.
“I know that planning is the only way to get anything done long term,” he said. “You’ve got to stick to your plan — that's investing or anything else. You have to have a plan and the confidence and courage to stick to that plan and build that way.”
And while Johnson is on board, he plans on convincing a fan base that is very passionate about its team to hop on as well.
“I think they have to be confident that we, the team here at the Jets, care about the success of the Jets as much as they do,” he said. “And we’ve got the talent to do it. We’ve got to show them, Mike and Todd and the team and me, that we’re going in the right direction, that this plan that we’ll be laying out is a plan they believe in.
"I think it’s the only way to get better in the NFL, and that’s to build with young players through the draft. You can look at the history of all of these teams. It’s really hard to do it any other way.”