FEBRUARY 9: When speaking to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Johnson noted that Saleh will “concentrate” on the team’s offense this season (video link). That is notable given the latter’s background on defense, and the continued presence of much-maligned OC Nathaniel Hackett. Johnson praised defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich as well as New York’s special teams units, doubling down on the team’s abundant need for offensive improvement. It will interesting to see what alterations could be made with Saleh committing more time and attention to that side of the ball.
FEBRUARY 8: Following their offseason acquisition of Aaron Rodgers, the Jets had high hopes heading into the 2023 campaign. Those hopes were dashed when Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on his fourth snap. The Jets still managed to finish the season with seven wins, but a five-game midseason losing streak revealed some major cracks in the foundation.
While owner Woody Johnson gave both head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas a vote of endorsement following the 2023 season, the duo won’t be completely excused for the team’s underwhelming performance. While speaking with reporters during tonight’s NFL Honors, Johnson seemed to hint that the HC/GM duo will be on the hot seat heading into the 2024 campaign.
“They’ve seen me about as mad as I could be with what was going on with the offense particularly,” Johnson said (via Adam H. Beasley of ProFootballNetwork.com). “We’ve got all this talent and we’ve got to deploy talent properly. So I think they all got the message.
“This is it, this is the time to go. We’ve got to produce this year, we have to produce this year.”
The Jets are 16-32 under Saleh, and the organization has gone 25-55 with Douglas leading the front office. While Johnson admitted that he’s not a “playoff mandate (guy),” he is counting on his coach and GM to improve on their seven-win campaign (via Costello).
During his conversation with reporters, Johnson seemed to express specific disappointment in the offense in 2023. He even took a clear shot at former second-overall pick Zach Wilson, stating that the team needs a backup quarterback since they “didn’t have one last year” (via Brian Costello of the New York Post). Johnson also pointed to the offensive line when asked about the team’s overall plan for success in 2024.
“We need to keep the quarterback vertical,” Johnson said (via Beasley). “It’s really all about the offense. For the last five years, it’s been about the offense. The offense has to score, keep the defense off the field.
“Defense is good, but we got, I think we were developing a really good plan for free agency and the draft, coaching trying to get the offense, so we have a balance, more of a balance, a balance on offense. We run the ball better in the red zone. A change in our practice schedule? We’re looking at everything. So we know we know what we can’t do, so now we got to do it.”
The owner also made it clear that he’s counting on Rodgers to return to top form. When asked if the Jets could close the gap between themselves and the top of the division, Johnson pointed directly at his veteran QB.
“Yeah. I think we can close it with Aaron Rodgers, yeah for sure,” he said (via Beasley). “We’ve got a very good defense. If we can do anything on offense. I mean, we won games without scoring a touchdown. That’s absolutely incredible.”