Fresh off a boot camp class in New York City before he headed out to the NFL League Meetings in Phoenix, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson appeared in tip-top shape as he addressed reporters Sunday. The affable Johnson consistently exuded his trademark smile, confident his team is more equipped for the fight ahead after talent increases on both sides of the ball.
“This is a wish list because we put together a list prior to free agency and we got a number of people whom we were hoping for,” he said. “I’m really excited and I think this team is better right now than it was a month ago.”
Over the past two weeks, the Jets signed one of the NFL’s top offensive weapons in RB Le’Veon Bell and added an explosive slot target in WR Jamison Crowder. They went the trade route to acquire a two-time Pro Bowler in OL Kelechi Osemele. In addition to re-signing some key pieces on defense, the Green & White made C.J. Mosley a deal he could not refuse and arguably the NFL’s best inside ‘backer will quarterback Gregg Williams’ defense.
“I think fans are going to love this. I know they love the Bell signing and the Mosley signing, KO,” Johnson said. “We’ve given Sam more targets, we’ve given him better protection. We still have the draft to go through, but I think they’re going to see our plan unfold and they’ll be happy with it.”
With the plan still developing, the Jets have a quarterback in place who should be a building block for years to come.
“I think we’ve seen that he is stepping up, he is getting better, the game is slowing down for him,” Johnson said of Sam Darnold. “And like I said last season, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He is a relentless studier of his own film and the opponents and he just keeps getting better. I think we’re going to see him take that next step.”
Darnold’s next steps will be taken with new Jets head coach Adam Gase. After three seasons with the Dolphins, Gase has moved north and has already impressed his new boss.
“He’s a grinder. He takes this very seriously, but he’s working really well with Mike (Maccagnan),” Johnson said. “They talk all the time, but Adam talks with me, he talks with coaches, he’s over on the business side. Coaches never go on the business side and he’s really integrated himself into our organization in a way that’s just so positive.”
Remaining positive, Johnson said he was “overjoyed” to have Williams as the Jets’ defensive coordinator and had no concerns about Bountygate scandal which played out in New Orleans from 2009-11.
“It was a while back. I think he learned his lesson. I’m 100 percent sure he isn’t going to make the same mistake again,” Johnson said. “He’s really impressed me. I think he is going to really motivate our team.”
Repeating Sunday that he is an impatient man, Johnson again refused a playoff mandate. But he is keeping his eyes on the ultimate prize as he continues his quest to restore glory to the Jets. He doesn’t want to win the headlines in New York — he just wants to win.
“If we win a Lombardi Trophy, I’ll wear it around like a crown until people are sick of me,” he said.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski announced his plans to retire Sunday and Johnson said he will miss Gronk as a player. “He’s one of the top players I always wished was a Jet. Just an extraordinary man and an extraordinary player.”… When asked about potential changes to the league’s replay rules regarding interference, Johnson indicated he will listen to all sides. “I would love to see if that can be rectified, but can it be rectified without messing up the game? I don’t know and I want to see that hashed out.”… After reaching agreement with the Jets, OLB Anthony Barr had second thoughts and decided Minnesota was the right place for him. Johnson took the high road when asked about Barr’s decision. “We want people on our team who want to be on our team who want to be New York Jets. Not everyone wants to be in New York and if he didn’t want to be here, that’s fine. It’s disappointing when someone backs out of an agreement, but we want people who are all in.”