It came as no surprise Tuesday to hear that New York Jets owner Woody Johnson reportedly prefers an expanded playoff format -- a concept that was tabled Tuesday at the NFL spring meeting and pushed to the fall. Johnson's coach, Rex Ryan, is overwhelmingly in favor of playoff expansion. I asked Ryan about it at the league meeting in March and this is what he said:
“Absolutely, absolutely. When you look at the fact that bonuses are probably tied into it, absolutely (laughs). I think it’s a good thing anyway. It’s so special to get into the playoffs. It’s a great thing for the fans. I would be for it. I don’t think you want to do where it’s like hockey and basketball, it just seems like three quarters of the league is in it even though my Leafs struggle, I just don’t understand it. I really think it’s a good thing, tough. You think about how Arizona didn’t go to the playoffs and they were playing as good as anybody at the end of the year. Again, you don’t want to water it down to where it’s like, that team never deserved it. You always want it like, yeah, every one if these teams deserves it."
It's funny that Ryan mentioned playoff bonuses because, as you know, his new contract extension -- finalized in January -- is heavy on playoff incentives. There are some who believe this season is playoffs-or-bust for Ryan, who has missed the postseason for three consecutive years after back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game. I don't believe it's an absolute mandate -- there could be some wiggle room, depending on circumstances -- but he'd certainly be walking on thin ice if the playoff drought hits four years. And thin ice is dangerous, even for a man who has lost 120 pounds.
Obviously, it's too late to implement playoff expansion (from 12 to 14 teams) for the 2014 season, but it certainly sounds like 2015 is a strong possibility, based on Roger Goodell's comments. This is a money grab by the league, which can parlay the expanded postseason field into extra TV money. It's all about the money.
In case you're wondering, no, the Jets wouldn't have qualified last season as the third wild card. At 8-8, they finished in a four-way tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, but the Steelers would've grabbed the last spot under an expanded format.