The New York Jets began the season with two losses in what some deemed a throwaway year before it started. Despite the rough start to the season, Jets CEO Christopher Johnson, who took over for brother Woody Johnson (U.S. Ambassador to the UK), dismissed the thought that the team is tanking the season.
"It couldn't be further from the truth," Johnson said in his first meeting with the media since taking over the team, via NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. "I want to win every game. Every player in that locker room wants to win. What you're seeing are growing pains. I mean, these are young guys. There are some older guys on the team and some of them are doing an extraordinary job. But I think you're going to see this team get better and better and better. That's what I'm looking for and we are definitely not tanking."
The Jets spent the offseason shredding veteran players and entered the season with one of the youngest, most shallow rosters in the NFL. After two games the Jets rank 31st in point differential (-34), tied for 27th in turnover differential (-3), and 32nd in points per game allowed (33.0).
With more losses likely coming, the jobs of coach Todd Bowels and general manager Mike Maccagnan could come under fire in New York after just three seasons together. Johnson said that win-loss record wouldn't be the deciding factor on whether he would make changes down the road.
"Believe me, I like winning a lot more than losses, but that's only part of the equation. The real way to judge this team and the people on it, including me, is are we getting better?" he said. "It's not going to come down to games. It's more about the play on the field. Are we getting better? Losses hurt deeply. I like wins a lot more. But it's not going to be the sole or even a really important way for me to judge Mike and Todd."
With a rebuilding roster, it will be tough to judge Bowles, but the progress of young players -- like promising rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye -- could ultimately decide the coach's fate.
"My brother said back early in the spring to not judge the team on wins and losses but (rather) progression and I agree with that," Johnson said. "I think it's going to be obvious to all this team is progressing. There are so many young guys who, just because they aren't (big) names, doesn't mean they aren't really talented. We have a group of coaches, including Todd, who are really good at building those players up. I think you're going to see a lot of progression. It's going to be obvious."
When asked if his brother would be involved with any decision on the future of Bowles and Maccagnan, Johnson replied: "Woody isn't involved in that at all."
Other notes from Johnson's meeting with the media (transcribed by Press Conference Wizard Mike Garafolo):
» Christopher Johnson says he doesn't talk to Woody about team matters:
"Not at all. I'm in touch with him constantly but none of it is about football. Other than he said he heard from somebody I'm doing a good job. ... Over the years he always bounced things off me. It would be great if I could do that with him but he really has a full-time job. We are not discussing football.
"He said, 'I'm stepping away from football.' (Ambassador to the U.K. is) his full-time job. It's a huge job."
» Johnson has never had an official role with the team other than minority owner but said he has played a role in the past:
"I've been very much in the background, but I've been part of most major decisions. I've been in the room for pretty much all of the big changes," he said. "Even when I wasn't, Woody was calling me up to ask what I thought. So that's made this transition a bit easier because it's not like I'm a neophyte. There is still a lot for me to learn. I'm still working through my progression here, but I think things are going well."
» Johnson said he was in agreement with the decision to hire both Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. He also believes both are doing a good job.
"Let's start with Mike. I think he's proven over the years he's an extraordinary talent evaluator and I've seen nothing to dissuade me from that here," Johnson said. "He's very thoughtful, very methodical. I'm really impressed with his drafts and his outlook. With Todd, much the same. I've been around a lot of coaches at this point. He has a connection with his players that maybe it doesn't show up for you guys, but I'm in the locker room, I'm at practices and I see him working with young men and he strikes the right balance of really everything. I'm really impressed with him."
» Johnson realizes the team is in a rebuilding mode, though he's hopeful it won't be a long one:
"I'm not a patient man," he said. "I'm like any fan. I've been a fan of this team my whole life. Yeah, you can look long-term, but I want to see this team progressing every game. I'm not happy with losses. But I'm excited about the progression."
» On his aspirations for the team:
"What I really want to see happen is for us to go to the Super Bowl, where I promised my brother I'd leave him two tickets at will call. Every little brother wants to show up his big brother."