The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and the dire state of the dysfunctional New York Jets still can’t avoid making major headlines. Obviously, Gang Green’s aspirations were to be playing in the Big Game, but once Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles popped, that dream went out the window.
Jets owner Woody Johnson, who reportedly scrolls Twitter and brings the vitriolic fan feedback to his head coach Robert Saleh, was speaking to the media in advance of Thursday’s NFL Honors, and he did not hold back whatsoever on just how big of a 2024 season is ahead for his franchise. Not to mention, he provided a glimpse behind the scenes of his offseason meetings with Saleh and GM Joe Douglas.
Woody Johnson on Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas: “The discussions we’ve had the last couple of months, they’ve seen me about as mad as I can be.”
Woody Johnson says what everyone knows. Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas need to win this year. “They all got the message. This is the time to go. We have to produce this year. We have to produce this year…. It’s not a playoff mandate, but we have to do a lot better than 7 (wins).”
It’s often said that the success or failure of an organization starts at the top. As in, with the owner. Ask the Carolina Panthers how things are going in their neck of the woods with David Tepper. This is a self-evident truth in the NFL and all professional sports, really. Johnson’s decision to take a power stance, finally confront the media after a long hiatus, and just put his entire football operation on blast isn’t the greatest look.
Mr. Johnson made his point more than enough with the talk about his coach and GM. Linked in the lede is the Jets exposé by The Athletic that detailed the nonsense happening with them behind the scenes. You’d think Johnson would stop there. But nope. He couldn’t help himself. After Saleh dove on countless figurative grenades to support his quarterback, Zach Wilson, and just to drag Douglas a little harder, he went in on the former No. 2 overall pick, AKA the biggest personnel decision of Douglas’ rather stellar tenure in the front office.
There were all these puff pieces in the offseason about how Rodgers took Wilson under his wing. They had a full-on bromance. Wilson wasn’t supposed to be thrust into duty. Instead, when Rodgers went down, Wilson was plugged into an offensive unit doomed to fail under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. No real weapons outside of WR1 Garrett Wilson and tailback Breece Hall, who was coming off a torn ACL. A terrible offensive line. A scheme tailored specifically to Rodgers — and more specifically on that note, a scheme where Rodgers had the wherewithal and freedom to check out of Hackett’s play calls.
Knowing all that context, knowing how Zach Wilson was set up to fail, and knowing that dragging Douglas for that high draft pick wouldn’t really do much good, Johnson proceeded anyway to take a cheap shot at Wilson and Douglas with that quote.
I mean, if that’s not a microcosm to perfectly capture what the New York Jets are under Woody Johnson’s ownership, I don’t know what is.
The NFL is a pressure-cooker business as it is. Many millions of dollars riding on every game. Everyone in that Jets building knows the situation. Why Johnson feels the need to pile on to his own guys is beyond me. That “bullsh*t” Rodgers was talking about flushing a while back? Its stink is — in all likelihood, history tells us — will linger as long as Johnson owns the team.
So yeah, Jets fans. Let’s hope Aaron Rodgers, coming off a torn Achilles, entering his age-41 season, can play like Prime Aaron Rodgers and save everybody’s jobs. Otherwise, Johnson has made it painfully clear, heads will roll. The man at the top just created an even sharper incline up an already steep hill.