It’s been nearly 17 years since Woody Johnson paid $635 million to buy the New York Jets. In that span, the Jets have won just one division title (2002) and have made six postseason appearances, but none in the past six seasons.
Johnson opted to keep coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan following New York’s dismal 5-11 campaign. Four days after said season was over, Johnson emphasized the importance of sticking to the plan put in place by his coach and GM whom he hired two years ago.
“I’m not essentially patient,” Johnson said, according to NorthJersey.com’s Andy Vasquez. “But I know planning is the only way you get anything done long-term. You’ve got to stick to your plans, in investing or anything else You’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to have the confidence and courage to stick by that plan.”
The problem with Johnson’s philosophy is he hasn’t stuck to it often, especially recently. This stat sort of proves that Johnson and his staff haven’t stuck to their plans very often.
#Jets changes since 2012:
-5 STs coordinators
— Corey Griffin (@CoreyGriffinNBC) January 5, 2017
That’s not exactly a strong track record. Granted, some of those changes were necessary. But, three GMs in six seasons isn’t exactly a strong way to build continuity. By the time the next GM has come close to cleaning up the mess of his predecessor, he’s already out the door leaving a mess of his own.
Take all of the spare parts Mike Maccagnan sent to the chop shop this year. Former John Idzik draft picks Dee Milliner and Jace Amaro were both let go during the season, while other high draft picks Sheldon Richardson and Geno Smith could be on their way out this offseason. Plus, Idzik’s terrible drafting put Maccagnan in a situation where he had to spend to meet a certain cap threshold, but also to fill glaring holes to field a competitive roster.
New York’s coaching staff has become a turnstile of sorts, especially on special teams. That doesn’t make life any easier on the players either.
“You want your organization to be the same,” defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said after learning that Bowles would return in 2017. “You don’t want to have to deal with learning new playbooks and things of that nature. A new coaching staff, getting to know how they call plays, and things of that nature.
“You don’t want to have to meet somebody new in a situation where you have to win now.”
That’s sort of the situation Bowles had gotten himself into. The Jets overachieved in 2015, winning 10 games against a cupcake schedule with a quarterback who had never played as well as he did throughout his entire career. It was a mirage and it gave the team false hope that a nearly identical roster was in position to win now.
It was labeled as a competitive rebuild, and it flopped massively. The Jets went 5-11 and looked utterly hopeless at times. Suddenly, Bowles was on the hot seat one year removed from one of the best coaching jobs in the league. Fans called for his head after lackadaisical efforts and it seemed at least possible that Bowles’ tenure would be finished after two seasons.
But, Johnson went against his recent history and is staying the course. He also pointed out that Bowles’ security won’t hinge upon a playoff appearance in 2017.
“No, I don’t really like mandates, because they normally don’t work,” Johnson said, per Vasquez. “Lines in the sand, whatever, you don’t want to judge it that way. The way we’ll judge it is getting better each year and seeing it in our players, are they getting better or are they going the other way.”
That might be an admission that the Jets are preparing for an actual rebuild. Not a competitive rebuild, not a quick fix, a full-fledged rebuild that this franchise has probably needed since 2012.
The problem is Johnson will never admit that fact and rightfully so. It is a business after all, and openly stating you’re tearing it down won’t be the best way to sell tickets.
But actions have spoken louder than Johnson’s words before. Perhaps this time he really means what he’s saying.