Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Woody on Super Bowl, Rex's job security
By Ian Begley
NEW YORK -- Jets owner Woody Johnson on Wednesday said Gang Green isn't in rebuilding mode this year and he's "optimistic" about the Jets' chances of playing in Super Bowl VLIII in New York in February.
But, despite all of that optimism, the team owner stopped short of making a commitment to Rex Ryan beyond this season.
"We never, we're not going to comment on that," said Johnson, speaking at an event to promote Super Bowl XLVIII, when asked whether Ryan will coach the Jets next season.
|Woody Johnson didn't want to talk about Rex Ryan's job security past this season.|
Ryan is under contract through the 2014 season. But the Jets will likely either extend his contract or fire him after this season to avoid having a "lame-duck" coach in 2014.
"I think Rex is a great teacher," Johnson said. "I've been to a number of his classes. He's a great teacher, he's a great motivator. He's an excellent head coach in my opinion. And I'm lucky, I think we're lucky to have him."
Many are predicting that the Jets will struggle this season. ESPN.com ranked them dead last in their Power Rankings for Week 1.
Johnson believes his team can surprise people, based on those expectations.
"I'm an optimistic person. You know, it's going to take a lot of perseverance and dedication and good training and all those things we have in place," Johnson said. "So we will give it everything we've got and we'll see on the field. You'll see the first game 1 o'clock on Sunday."
Johnson added that it would be "terrific" if the Jets made it to the Super Bowl. They last won the NFL title nearly 45 years ago in Super Bowl III.
"That's what we're doing this for. You want to go to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. That's why all 32 owners are in this game," he said.
Johnson also defended Ryan's decision to attend the Clemson University football game on Saturday to watch his son play, rather than being with the team on cut-down day.
"I would have gone, too. He'd done all of his work. ... He was available by phone if we needed him. He'd made all the calls to the players who we were interested in getting," Johnson said.
The owner said Ryan "regretted that his dad, [Buddy Ryan], never came to any of his games so he wasn't about to make that same mistake, particularly on a day that didn't really make any difference."
He's a great teacher, he's a great motivator. He's an excellent head coach in my opinion. And I'm lucky, I think we're lucky to have him.
-- Woody Johnson, on Rex Ryan
Johnson added that he didn't have any regrets over Ryan's decision to play Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter of the team's game against the Giants in Week 3 of the preseason. Sanchez hurt his shoulder and is not available for the Jets' opener against Tampa, sources told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini.
"That was a decision that was made. I don't have any regrets. He's an experienced guy. I wished he hadn't gotten hurt, but you've got to protect yourself too," Johnson said.
The Jets on Wednesday named Geno Smith the opening-day starter at quarterback.
Regarding speculation over Ryan's future, Johnson said the team is "all in" for this season but declined to comment beyond that.
"[The media is] speculating. I'm not speculating. We don't talk about any of that," Johnson said. "We're all in right now as a team. The team is put together. So there's no speculation."
Johnson was on hand to help deliver the Vince Lombardi trophy to the "Huddle Shuttle" -- a vehicle that will tour the tri-state area with the trophy and other elements of the Super Bowl.
"It's a way to get [the trophy and the Super Bowl exposure] because the stadium itself only holds 83,000 people. So it's a way for everyone to get a feel for the excitement directly," Johnson said.
WOODY COMPLIMENTARY OF TEBOW: The Tim Tebow experiment didn't work well for Johnson and the Jets. The coaching staff never found an effective way to use Tebow and released him in the offseason. The Patriots picked Tebow up but released him earlier this week. Johnson still holds out hope that he can be successful in the NFL.
"All I can say is that there's no finer person than Tim Tebow, from the experience I had with him. So I wish him the best and I hope that, you know, his dream, the dream that he has for himself is fulfilled," Johnson said.