“Good” just isn’t good enough for Woody Johnson.
Though pleased with the turnaround his team made in 2015, the Jets’ owner made it clear that he’s not satisfied.
“Good. Not where we want to be,” Johnson said Friday, giving his assessment on the Jets’ 10-6 season. “So far, so good.”
In his first formal interview with Jets beat writers since the beginning of the season, Johnson touched on several topics, including the maturation of starter-turned-backup Geno Smith and his impressions of Year 1 of the Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan era.
“I think he did a heck of a job and he’s going to get better,” Johnson said of Bowles, his first-year head coach, at a team event in Manhattan.
Asked if the Jets are trending upward, Johnson said: “Well, I think, going from 4-12 to 10-6 . . . I don’t know if it’s a trend, it’s a one-year deal. But yeah, I feel pretty good about the new team in place and what they’re capable of doing. I’m sorry we lost the way we did.”
After a 4-1 start, the Jets lost four of five games between Weeks 7-11. Had they defeated Rex Ryan’s Bills in the season finale, they would have made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, but the Jets lost, 22-17, in Buffalo.
“I hate to lose the same way twice,” Johnson said, referring to their Nov. 12 loss to the Bills by the same score at MetLife Stadium.
Nevertheless, Johnson was complimentary of the Bowles-Maccagnan union, the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick (“Ryan did a nice job last year for us. Good leader. People like him.”) and high-priced cornerback Darrelle Revis (“He’s 1 or 2 in the league. He played well.”).
Though Bowles and Maccagnan have said they’d like to bring back Fitzpatrick, there is the question of what happens to Smith. Asked about the former 2013 second-round pick, who lost his starting job after his jaw was broken during a locker- room altercation with then-teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali on Aug. 11, Johnson noted Smith’s improved maturity.
“You’ve got to realize, as a quarterback, you’re making decisions for the team,” he said. “You’re the leader of the team, so everything you do will be judged on that level.
“Geno had a pretty good year. We’ll see in the summer how he’s developed, but I think the coaches are pretty optimistic about what he’s learned, his maturity. We know he can throw a ball. I think he’s taken it to a new level, and we’ll see how that plays out.”
So is there a chance Smith still could be the face of the franchise?
“That’s up to the eye of the beholder, but he has all the skills,” Johnson said. “It’s a question of what his desire is. And from what the coaches have told me and from what I’ve seen myself, he’s matured a lot. And he’s working on his game. He knows he’s a professional. He has the ability to do it, if he sticks with it.”
As of now, Smith is expected to be back. Johnson, however, declined to discuss the team’s plans as it relates to re-signing Fitzpatrick and his fellow free agent, Pro Bowl defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.
“The contract deals I don’t really talk about,” he said. “We’re going to try to put the best team together we can. Mo’s a great player. We drafted him. So we’ll see how that plays out.”
There was one other topic Johnson tiptoed around: Donald Trump.
Johnson, who was one of the biggest fundraisers for the past three Republican presidential nominees, is campaigning for Jeb Bush.
So would Johnson support Trump if he were the GOP’s nominee?
“Oh, jeez,” Johnson said. “I don’t think anybody was predicting that at the beginning. But politics and sports, you have to kind of wait to see what happens.
“I’m not going to go there yet. I’m supporting Jeb Bush and I’m hoping that he’s going to make it. I think he’s the right answer for the country.”