New York Jets: Woody Johnson

Woody Johnson: 8-8 not good enough

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Another .500 season isn't going to cut it, as far as Woody Johnson is concerned. The New York Jets' owner didn't issue a playoffs-or-bust mandate, but he made it clear Wednesday he expects progress in 2014.

"Eight-and-eight was good, but I wasn't satisfied," Johnson told reporters at the team's mandatory minicamp. "I'm not satisfied unless we go further than that."

The Jets are mired in the longest playoff drought of Johnson's ownership -- three years. The team made the playoffs in six of his first 11 years as the boss, so this has to be a painful stretch for him. Remember, Johnson indicated at the league meetings in March that he's tired of being patient. The Jets overachieved last season, becoming a feel-good story with a strong finish, but there are no medals for trying, as Bill Parcells once said.

Pressed by reporters, Johnson refused to be drawn into setting specific goals for the team. He wouldn't say if he considers this a playoff-caliber team, and he wouldn't say if progress will be judged solely on the win-loss column. He acknowledged that four years is an eternity in the NFL, but he wouldn't say if a four-year playoff drought would be too much to swallow.

Asked if he believes the current team is better than the one that finished with a season-ending win in Miami, Johnson said, "Absolutely, but that's not unique. I feel like that every year."

One of the most-asked questions by fans is the inordinate amount of salary-cap space -- about $21 million. The Jets are among the league leaders in cap room, prompting many to wonder, "Why not spend more money?" Johnson said he didn't tell general manager John Idzik to limit spending.

"No, John is using the cash he has," Johnson said. "He has obligations going forward, as you guys know" -- a reference to the NFL's minimum-spending rule. "It's really trying to find the best fit and the best value for the team, not just wantonly spending in free agency. Our culture is one of building ourselves. We'd rather take a player from the draft and mold him into what our culture is and have him be a Jet for us. That’s our ideal. Obviously, we got Eric Decker, we got some very good free agents, but we’re not just looking to spend money. We want to make sure it’s value and it’s a good fit for us."

Scholarship winners: The Jets, in conjunction with New York's Public School Athletic League, announced two $5,000 scholarship winners -- Sarah De Jesus and Mohamed Koanda, both of whom hail from the Bronx. The winners were selected based on performance in athletics and the classroom.
The Portuguese World Cup team wrapped up five days of training Monday at the New York Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J., performing before a small audience of American footballers -- Rex Ryan and about a dozen members of the Jets.

Nick Folk, Nick Bellore, David Nelson, Josh Bush, Leger Douzable, Breno Giacomini, Ryan Quigley and Antwan Barnes were among the players that watched Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates in their final training session in New Jersey. Folk, Bellore and Giacomini are avid soccer fans. Ryan was joined by assistants Marty Mornhinweg, Thomas McGaughey, Jeff Weeks and coaching intern Eric Smith. The Jets held an organized team activity practice earlier in the day.

The Jets placed a box of footballs on the field and, during an informal period, some of the Portuguese players -- including Ronaldo -- got a kick out of ... well, trying to kick the odd-shaped American footballs. Ronaldo actually tried a corner kick with a football, with Nelson holding. Nelson also showed some of the Portuguese players how to grip and throw a football.

"It was fantastic," Humberto Coelho, vice president of the Portuguese Football Federation, said in a brief phone interview Monday night. "We make some passes and some dribbles on the pitch."

Folk and Quigley, who make their living by booting a football, got a chance -- along with Bellore -- to kick around a soccer ball with some of the players. Folk, who received scholarship offers to play soccer in college, brought a pair a cleats and had them signed by members of the Portuguese team, including Ronaldo. So did Bellore, who tweeted a photo of Ronaldo demonstrating his vertical jump. No doubt, he'd impress at the scouting combine.

Ronaldo & Co. got a chance to experience the Jets' state-of-the-art complex, raving about the quality of the facilities. One of the grass fields was converted to a soccer pitch. Coelho said the field was "impeccable," adding that he hopes the fields in Brazil measure up to the Jets' field.

"That's the truth," he said, adding that the training sessions were a "very positive" experience for Portugal in its preparation for the World Cup. Before departing for Brazil, Portugal faces Ireland Tuesday night in a friendly at MetLife Stadium.

Portugal set up a makeshift trainers' room under a tent on the outdoor patio, where the players got taped before taking the field. The players didn't use the Jets' locker room -- they dressed at the hotel -- but they used the auditorium, where Ryan holds his team meetings.

Coach Paolo Bento held his news conferences in the auditorium, meeting with the media on three of the five days. Each day, one player was made available to the soccer media. Approximately 35 media members showed up each day, arriving from the hotel in their own bus. Kind of sounds like a Super Bowl. In Portgual, and in soccer-crazy countries across the globe, it's bigger than a Super Bowl.

On Sunday, the president of the Portuguese soccer federation presented Jets owner Woody Johnson with a Ronaldo-signed jersey. In return, Johnson gave the president an authentic Jets helmet autographed by him.
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.
Good morning, New York Jets fans. One year ago, your favorite team traded its best player.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsThe Jets appear to have made the right move in trading cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
Yes, April 21 is the first anniversary of the Darrelle Revis trade, a highly controversial move in which John Idzik -- in his first significant decision as the general manager -- sent the then-injured cornerback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because owner Woody Johnson refused to meet the player's asking price on a new contract, $16 million per year.

After months of speculation, fans awoke on a Sunday morning to the news that Revis was en route to Tampa to take a physical. Within a couple of hours, it was a done deal, one that will be debated for years. One year later, our take on the winners and losers from the trade:

Winner -- The Jets. Philosophically, it was the right move because no cornerback is worth $16 million a year, but the right move doesn't always work out. In this case, it did. They used the 2013 draft-pick compensation (13th overall) to select defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. They also landed a fourth-round choice in the upcoming draft. To grade the trade mainly on Richardson's performance, however, isn't fair. If the Jets had kept Revis, they wouldn't have needed a cornerback, so they probably would've picked Richardson with their own choice (ninth overall) instead of Dee Milliner. So, when evaluating the trade, Milliner has to be included -- and he was shaky as a rookie.

Loser -- The Bucs. You can bet they're not celebrating the anniversary in Tampa. It was an ill-advised trade when they made it, and it turned into an all-time bust. The Bucs, under new leadership, decided to cut Revis after only one season. After all the hype, he was just a one-year rental. In the end, the trade cost them a mid-first-round pick and $16 million, and the result was a 4-12 record and pink slips for coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Dominik.

Wealthy loser -- Revis. Financially, he made out nicely, making $10 million more from the Bucs than he would've received from the Jets in 2013 -- not a bad raise for a guy coming off ACL surgery. His unexpected trip to free agency allowed him to make another score, landing $12 million from the New England Patriots. Despite a two-year, $29 million haul (including a $1 million roster bonus from the Jets before the trade), Revis has become a hired gun, a well-to-do journeyman who probably will spend the rest of his career going year to year and team to team. It's too bad because he could've gone down as one of the best and most beloved players in Jets history.

Winners -- The quarterbacks and pass-catchers who faced the Jets. Even though the Jets will benefit from the trade over the long haul, they suffered in the short term, missing Revis' presence in the secondary. The Jets allowed a staggering 3,947 passing yards, a 900-yard increase from the previous year and the most allowed by the franchise since 1986. It was a stain on Rex Ryan's sterling record as a defensive mastermind.

Loser -- Antonio Cromartie. Without Revis, Cromartie became the No. 1 cornerback and was often responsible for covering the opponents' top wideout. He was torched on a fairly regular basis, contributing to his release at the end of the season. He had to settle for a one-year, $3.5 million contract from the Arizona Cardinals.

NFL meetings: Takeaways on the Jets

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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After two days at the NFL owners' meetings at a swanky resort hotel in Orlando (picture a lot of palm trees, giant fountains and stretch limos), I offer a few thoughts and observations:

1. Woody likes DeSean: Even though the New York Jets tried to downplay Woody Johnson's surprisingly candid remarks about the team's interest in DeSean Jackson, I came away with the sense that the owner is very intrigued by the Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver. Behind the scenes, Johnson spoke highly of Jackson, who reportedly is on the trading block. Could this be Johnson's new Tebow crush?

2. Broken record: I think "sustainable success" has replaced "competition" as John Idzik's new mantra. Heard it more than a few times during interviews and casual conversations. My impression is that fans already are tired of it.

3. Geno vs. Mike: I find it interesting that, unlike a year ago, team officials were reluctant to use the phrase "open competition" to describe the current quarterback situation with Geno Smith and Michael Vick. You heard a lot of, "Geno will be hard to beat out" and "Mike will help Geno." Two fascinating dynamics here: The organization (mainly Idzik) wants Smith to be the opening-day starter. Most football people would agree that Vick, if healthy, is a better quarterback than Smith. It should make for a compelling summer.

4. The Idzik 12: The organization was holding out hope for a third-round compensatory pick, but it was delighted to receive a fourth rounder and three sixth-round choices. With 12 draft choices, the Jets were downright giddy, imagining the possibilities on May 8-10.

5. Corner concern: Rex Ryan downplayed his concern with the current state of the cornerback position, insisting he can make it work. Give the man an Oscar; you bet he's worried about the position. I found it interesting that, amid all the damage control, Kyle Wilson's name rarely came up. That may not be a good omen for Wilson, a former first-round pick.

6. Bargain shopping: Now that the first wave of free agency is over, look for the Jets to jump into the secondary market -- meaning short-term contracts for second- and third-tier players.

7. Goodbye, Sanchize: Ryan seemed genuinely disappointed that things didn't work out with Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was Ryan's first draft pick, back in 2009, and there was a time when it seemed like a no-brainer that he'd be the starting quarterback for at least a decade.

8. Loss of an icon: Owners and league officials often give scripted answers to questions from the media, but there was a genuine outpouring of emotion when it was announced that Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson had died at the age of 95. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, in an interview with the Buffalo News, teared up as he spoke about Wilson.

Rex talks receivers, but not DeSean

March, 25, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Unlike owner Woody Johnson, Rex Ryan wasn't about to use the 'D' word -- DeSean, as in Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Ryan wanted to avoid any questions about tampering, so he wouldn't talk about the possibility of acquiring Jackson.

Jackson
"Mr. Johnson is the owner, so he can do what he wants, but I'm not going to talk about anybody else on somebody else’s roster," Ryan said Tuesday at the owners' meetings.

Johnson confirmed interest in Jackson, but the level of interest remains to be seen. The Jets aren't keen on the idea of trading for Jackson, but their interest could grow if he's released. Even then, there's no guarantee that he'd a must-have.

Ryan did say this much: He expects the Jets to add another wide receiver in the offseason.

"I don’t think we’re done in that area," he said. "We’ve got a lot of draft picks and it’s a deep draft class at that position. It’s safe to say, I bet you anything, we end up making another move for a receiver somewhere along the line, if I'm a betting man. It might not be the moves you want us to make, but how many picks to do we have? Twelve? I bet we take a shot."

Right now, the Jets' top receivers are Eric Decker and slot man Jeremy Kerley. They still have a need for a true No. 1 receiver. For depth, they have Stephen Hill and David Nelson. The Jets have expressed interest in former Raider Jacoby Ford, a low-level free agent. They're also looking at the possibility of adding a veteran running back. There's some interest in Maurice Jones-Drew, but his current asking price is beyond what the Jets are willing to pay.
Rex Ryan Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesJets ownership expects Rex Ryan to improve on last season's 8-8 record.
If Rex Ryan didn't feel playoffs-or-bust pressure for 2014, he does now.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who only 10 months ago pleaded for "patience" from the fans, unwittingly turned up the heat on his coach Sunday at the NFL meetings in Orlando, saying it's a win-now mentality.

"I’m not going to use the word ‘patient’ anymore,” Johnson told reporters. “We want to do it now."

For older Jets fans, Johnson's candid remarks may stir memories of the late Leon Hess, in 1995, growling, "I'm 80 years old. I want results now." He made those comments at Rich Kotite's introductory news conference. Hess had to wait a few years for those results, and they didn't happen until Bill Parcells came to town.

Ryan doesn't have that much time. If he misses the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, it would be difficult to see him keeping his job. Yes, he received a contract extension after a better-than-expected season, but all that did was give him an extra year of security, with guaranteed salaries through 2015.

Clearly, Johnson expects better than 8-8 this season, and he has a right to feel that way. Patience was the way to go last season because it was the first year of John Idzik's rebuilding project. He tore the roster apart, handing Ryan a five- or six-win roster. Ryan squeezed out eight wins, a terrific coaching job. But now his boss has become impatient with being patient, revealing a greater sense of urgency than his top football man, Idzik.

Idzik keeps talking about building a team that has sustainable success, avoiding quick fixes and working from a long-term plan. Now there's a mixed message, with Johnson suggesting the league is so parity-driven that championships should always be the goal. It's a departure from last May, when he implored the fans, "Yes, be patient. Be patient and trust that we’re doing the right thing for your team."

Demonstrating his win-now approach, Johnson confirmed the team's interest in Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who reportedly is on the trading block. It was stunning because of tampering rules -- team officials aren't supposed to comment on opposing players -- and because of the Jets' secretive ways.

[+] EnlargeWoody Johnson
Mario Tama/Getty ImagesWoody Johnson expects the New York Jets to have a winning season in 2014.
I say, "Good for him." Finally, a straight answer from a Jets official.

That Johnson went public tells me the Jets are very interested in Jackson. He said they'd rather not surrender a draft pick -- meaning Jackson would be more attractive if he gets released -- but that could mean they're not willing to give up the exact pick the Eagles are demanding. It's called posturing.

Jackson doesn't seem like an Idzik kind of guy, with his enormous contract and his diva behavior. But Jackson would give the Jets a much-improved offense. With Jackson and Eric Decker, you're talking about a legit receiving corps. Johnson loves offense. Most owners do. It puts rear ends in the seats.

Meanwhile, Ryan must be thinking, "How 'bout a cornerback?" He has the right to be concerned about the giant hole in his defense. If the owner is making this a win-now season, the least he could do is give his defensive-minded coach a couple of proven corners. Right now, they have Dee Milliner and a lot of questions. You could argue that Milliner is a question, too.

The Jets have acquired three new players in free agency, all on offense -- Decker, quarterback Michael Vick and right tackle Breno Giacomini. The defense is worse than it was at the end of last season. The Jets still have the draft, and still have time to plug holes. But the expectations are higher than 2013. They got even higher Sunday, when Johnson opened his mouth.

"Look at the difference between last year and this year,” Johnson said. “The team can turn very fast in the NFL. You saw Seattle. I’ve seen a lot of teams that came from the bottom ... that weren’t doing that well, to winning Super Bowls. So, it’s there. I think we’re trying to put ourselves in position to accomplish those objectives."

Would Jets want Revis? Yes and no

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
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Hottest question of the day: Would the New York Jets want to reunite with Darrelle Revis if he gets cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

There are mixed signals on this one. The Jets "absolutely" would be interested in the star cornerback, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking -- assuming Revis is willing to take less than his current $16 million-a-year salary. Rex Ryan has a deep affinity for Revis and, according to a person close to the coach, he likely already has brought up Revis' name is discussions with general manager John Idzik.

While the football side of the organization would love a Revis reunion, the feeling probably isn't the same on the management/ownership level. Years of acrimony between the front office and Revis' camp culminated last April with a bitter divorce, and it's unlikely Woody Johnson would sign off on a Revis 2.0, according to a person familiar with the owner's thinking.

"Woody's not going to allow Revis back in the building," the person said. "He's so anti-Revis. It would happen over his dead body, and I don't think he's ready to leave us."

The biggest question might be, would Revis even consider returning to the Jets? Unless they meet his asking price (not likely), he'd have to be desperate.

This could all be moot, of course, because the Bucs are attempting to trade Revis. The Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders reportedly have interest. Both teams have New York ties to Revis. The Browns' coach is former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and the Raiders' assistant GM is Joey Clinkscales, the former Jets director of college scouting. The Bucs want to trade him before Wednesday. If not, they'll cut him before a $1.5 million roster bonus us due.

Sunday notes: The book on Woody

August, 4, 2013
8/04/13
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Woody Johnson and Dana CarveyUSA TODAY Sports, AP PhotoWoody, is that you?
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Checking out the Jets:

1. Life of a billionaire: ESPNNewYork.com has obtained excerpts of Jerry Oppenheimer's soon-to-be-released book on Jets owner Woody Johnson, entitled, "Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty." Salacious aspects of his personal life already have been leaked to newspapers. We'll stick mostly to the football-related stuff, although I have to say there are no bombshells with regard to the Jets. A few nuggets, though:

a. Oppenheimer writes that Johnson didn't fire Rex Ryan after last season "because when he was in his teens he had witnessed his father being unceremoniously fired as president of Johnson & Johnson by Woody's grandfather. Besides recalling how hurtful it was, Woody had much affection for Ryan, whose earthy personality and physical type reminded him of his late father."

b. Oppenheimer reports on the controversial Tim Tebow acquisition, writing: "Woody, the businessman, and his team executives, felt it was absolute brilliance to have acquired him. As they saw it, Tebow would sell everything from tickets to T-shirts to lucrative TV advertising, and the Jets would be closely watched from coast to coast."

c. Johnson second-guessed himself before making his winning $635 million bid for the team in 2000. His ex-wife, Sale Johnson, is quoted in the book: "We were sitting on the beach using my cell phone because his had run out of juice and he was making his final offer. And he said, 'I don't know what to do. I don't know what to bid, it's already so high.'" At that moment, Johnson increased his bid by $10 million.

d. Oppenheimer writes that Johnson "spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on practice fields [in Florham Park], but when Ryan discovered the turf wasn't level, Woody 'was pissed' and had the fields torn up and new sod put in." Ryan is quoted as saying, "We had a helicopter hovering all night trying to dry the field off before we could finally start using it."

e. When he was in his 20s, Johnson lost "a serious bid" to buy the expansion Bucs.

f. Johnson wore a wig on a cross-country motorcycle trip, New York to San Francisco, so he could resemble a long-haired biker. This is trivial, but amusing.

2. GM-speak: John Idzik created a stir with his take on the QB decision, saying it will be a group decision -- a public stance that seemed to be undercutting Ryan. I spoke to a former Idzik associate, and he had this to say about the GM's headline-making comments: "I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that. In the end, I'm sure he'll acquiesce to the coaches. If Marty Mornhinweg stands up and says, 'I want [Mark] Sanchez for this, this and this reason,' and Rex backs him up, John won't disagree. He's very bright and very stubborn, but he won't overrule him. Remember, the head coach has the chalk last."

3. Heard around Cortland: One of my Cortland moles [a chatty waitress] said she ran into two Jets players at a nail salon. She said the players were there for pedicures. The players identified themselves as rookies. She didn't get names. What's the NFL coming to? Years ago, players bemoaned the dog days of training camp. Now players pay professionals to pamper their barking dogs.

4. Oh, (Big) Brother: The paranoia level around the team has increased significantly under Idzik. News photogaphers and TV cameras weren't allowed to shoot Saturday night's scrimmage, save for warm ups and stretching, even though it was watched by 6,000 fans and broadcast on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. For all we know, there could've been opposing scouts in the stands. Ridiculous.

5. Twin Bills: Cool gesture by Bill Belichick, taking the time out of his training-camp schedule to attend Bill Parcells' Hall-of-Fame induction Saturday night in Canton. Their relationship has always fascinated me. It wasn't warm and fuzzy, not even when they coached together with the Giants, Jets and Patriots. They had what Parcells once described as a "water-cooler relationship," meaning: They'd bump into each other at the office water cooler, chat briefly and go their separate ways to perform their coaching duties. It was an unusual dynamic, but it worked brilliantly.

Their relationship became strained in the early 2000s. Believe me, I witnessed it first-hand. They reconnected in 2006, about a month before Harry Carson was inducted into the Hall of Fame. They attended a tribute for Carson at Gallagher's steak house in Manhattan. The media were also invited and I remember looking over at a corner table, seeing Parcells, Belichick and Marty Schottenheimer in deep conversation. The two Bills apparently patched it up that day and, from all indications, they've become good friends. It's good to see.

5. Keyshawn's secret deal: I was talking to Keyshawn Johnson the other day about Parcells, and the former Jets receiver revealed that he almost signed a new contract before the 1997 season. Johnson was only one year into his contract after being drafted No. 1 overall in '96, and Parcells had just arrived on the scene. "Bill tried to tear my deal up," Johnson said. "He wanted to tear up my entire deal and make me one of the highest-paid receivers. But the management council turned it down." A source confirmed Johnson's recollection of the events. It was rejected on a technicality, probably because the existing contract was only a year old. But imagine how history might have been altered if Johnson had received a new deal. Maybe that trade to the Bucs in 2000 wouldn't have happened. They didn't try again after the '97 season because they gave an expensive, complex contract to Curtis Martin, which also annoyed the management council.

6. Keyshawn, Part II: Parcells was the Jets' de facto GM when Johnson was dealt. A couple of months after the trade, Parcells left the Jets. To this day, Johnson believes Parcells made the trade thinking they'd reunite in Tampa. "He traded me to Tampa for a reason, knowing he'd wind up coaching there," Johnson said. It almost happened. Sure enough, a year later, Parcells-to-the-Bucs almost happened. Hmm.

7. Bleak for Big 'Bo': Former Jets NT Sione Po'uha, who was released after the season, likely is done with football, according to former teammates. Po'uha still is experiencing complications from a back injury that plagued him last season, they said. Ever the warrior, Po'uha, 34, is trying to get healthy with the hope of prolonging his career, but it won't be easy to get medical clearance. The Jets certainly miss his presence in the locker room.

8. Boo for a cheer: So now, in the post-Firemen Ed era, the Jets are telling their fans how to perform the "J-E-T-S!" cheer --a coordinated, four-sides-of-the-stadium chant. They should concentrate on giving them something to cheer about, not worrying about how to cheer.

9. This Spicoli dude can play: The Jets have a sleeper in WR Ryan Spadola, an undrafted free agent from Lehigh. He has made some eye-catching plays in practice, highlighted by a 47-yard TD grab in the scrimmage. Spadola, nicknamed "Spicoli" by Ryan (see: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"), is a shade under 6-foot-2 and ran a 4.41 at the combine. His draft stock probably was hurt because of less-than-stellar numbers his senior year -- 57 catches, 851 yards, four TDs. But there was a story behind it: He contracted mononucleosis during the season and missed two games.

Spadola is a Jersey guy (Freehold High School), so: "Everybody says, 'You're the next Wayne Chrebet.' He was a great receiver. It's humbling to be put in the same category." As Spadola talked to reporters after the scrimmage, "Born to Run" -- a song from another Jersey guy, Bruce Springsteen -- blared from the stadium speakers. Fittting because Springsteen also attended high school in Freehold.

10. Youth is served: The Jets could have three rookies in the opening-day lineup -- QB Geno Smith, CB Dee Milliner and DT Sheldon Richardson. The last time they had two was 2006, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold.

Woody channels inner Superman

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
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Jets owner Woody Johnson must have read a lot of comic books when he was a kid. Commenting Monday on Mike Goodson's arrest, Johnson invoked a famous line from "Superman."

"We're trying to win games and do the right thing. Truth, justice and the American way," Johnson told reporters at the NFL meetings in Boston, according to USA Today Sports. "We live by it, we really do."

Goodson, arrested last Friday on drug and weapons charges, showed up at the team's facility Monday morning for the first OTA practice, a source said. However, he didn't practice at all. He didn't watch practice, but he met with team officials.

"We're at a point of investigating the facts," Johnson said. "[General manager] John Idzik met with him this morning, he'll meet with the coaches today. We'll try to get the story on what the facts are and go from there."

Woody surprised Milliner was available at 9

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
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HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Woody Johnson was about to step into a car to take him to meet new cornerback Dee Milliner at the Jets practice facility, but not before he expressed surprise that the Jets were able to grab him with the ninth overall pick.

"He was a top guy on our board and we’re so happy to have him," Johnson said. "He’s a great football player he comes from a great program in Alabama. We never thought we’d get him, so we were really happy to get him."

Johnson was at a Boys and Girls Club in Hoboken with Giants owner John Mara, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and N.J. governor Chris Christie to announce $1 million donations made by both local NFL franchises to the 2014 Super Bowl Committee’s charitable arm, the Snowflake Foundation. The money will be spent on programs for youth in the local area.

Johnson was also asked whether he planned to have quarterback Tim Tebow on the roster going forward and he said, "We haven’t made that determination yet."

That was of course before his team drafted Geno Smith in the second round.

Woody won't discuss Revis until next week

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
4:49
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As Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Giants owner John Mara discussed the futures of Wes Welker and Victor Cruz, Jets owner Woody Johnson refused to shed any light on the future of his own franchise player, cornerback Darrelle Revis.

"Next week I'll answer that," Johnson said, referring to the owners' meetings.

With reports that Revis, who has a year remaining on his contract, could be shopped to other franchises as he returns from surgery to repair his torn ACL, Johnson said he would only discuss the NFL's new program to prevent and diagnose traumatic brain injuries. The news conference was held at the Manhattan headquarters of General Electric, the NFL's new partner in the venture.

Johnson was asked at least six times about Revis, who stands to make roughly $6 million this season. Revis hoped to rework his four-year deal, which he said was a "Band-Aid," before the start of last season.

Johnson was the only owner who refused to discuss business. At the same meeting, Kraft told reporters he hoped that Wes Welker would remain a Patriot, and Mara said the Giants would apply a first-round tender to Cruz.

Question? Phone Rex, but where's Woody?

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
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Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik will face an angry mob Monday -- well, kinda.

They will hold a 1 p.m. conference call with season-ticket holders, answering football questions. The Jets do this once or twice a year, a PR move that lets the fan base hear the state of team directly from the decision makers. Presumably, the calls will be screened, so it probably won't get too down and dirty, but Jets fans aren't bashful and they believe Ryan has some 'splaining to do.

But something will be missing: Woody Johnson.

The fans deserve to hear from the owner, who is dangling the Jets' best player -- Darrelle Revis -- in trade talks. No matter how the Jets spin it, Johnson is the man behind the Revis situation. He started telling people around him as far back as January, including some of the GM candidates, he was deeply concerned about the team's ability to sign Revis to a long-term deal and that it should explore the possibility of a trade.

The fans pay outrageous prices for PSLs, and now they have a team that has gone south faster than the Florida snowbirds. Soon they'll be asked to renew their season tickets, knowing there's a chance their one true star player could be sent packing.

What say you, Mr. Johnson?

Johnson hasn't addressed the media since the day he introduced Idzik at a news conference in January, the day after the Revis rumors broke. That day, Johnson mostly talked in circles, neither confirming nor denying the trade speculation.

I went back and checked Johnson's comments from September, 2010, when the Jets signed Revis to a four-year, $46 million contract following a long holdout. The owner was asked if he envisioned Revis finishing his career as a Jet; even then, he wasn't overflowing with optimism.

"We'd like him to be a Jet, but I guess it takes two to tango," Johnson said. "I'm happy we have him for four years, which is about the average length of a NFL player's life in the NFL. That's a long time to be together. That will be a total of seven years with Revis. What could be better?"

Why not another seven? That's the question he should be answering now.

The latest on the Revis situation: Crickets

February, 26, 2013
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Hold the hysteria, people. Nothing has changed with the Darrelle Revis situation. Absolutely nothing.

No, the New York Jets haven't conducted any formal talks with Revis' agents, according to sources. And, yes, the Jets listened to teams at the scouting combine that inquired about the star cornerback, sources confirmed. Does this mean Revis is finished with the Jets?

Headline writers are hyperventilating, but check the calendar -- it's Feb. 26. This is the first inning of a nine-inning game that could, in theory, stretch all the way to the trading deadline in late October. Nothing is imminent.

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
Doug Murray/Icon SMIUnless Darrelle Revis gives the Jets a Tom Brady discount, there's no way he'll land a long-term contract with them before the draft.
As I reported on Friday, the Jets are intent to let his play out, perhaps through the summer.

Take this to the bank: Unless Revis gives the Jets a Tom Brady discount, there's no way he'll land a long-term contract with them before the NFL draft. They want to see him on the field, healthy, before they commit mega-money to a cornerback coming off major knee surgery. As GM John Idzik said last week at the combine, their top priority is to make sure Revis gets back to being Revis.

So does this mean Revis will be traded before the draft? I wouldn't rule that out because I do believe the Jets would deal their best player if the right offer came along. Owner Woody Johnson is concerned about their ability to re-sign Revis, according to sources, and he has instructed his football people to quietly gauge the market. And they're doing that.

Problem is, it'll be hard to receive fair value because of the injury. We're also in a flat-cap era, and teams -- many of which are squeezed against the salary cap -- may be reluctant to meet Revis' asking price, believed to be $16 million a year.

So the Jets will wait. In the meantime, there will be posturing, lots of posturing. The enmity between the Jets and Revis' agents runs deep, back to 2007. Neither side wants to make the first move, so what we have is a staring contest.

It's hardly news that the Jets have yet to open negotiations with Revis. After all, he still has a year left on his contract and they have other front-burner issues that need attention.

At the same time, they owe Revis' camp a courtesy call. If they truly have an interest in re-signing their best player, they should contact the agents to express that sentiment and to set up a time to talk, even if it's a month from now. But the situation is so toxic that they're reluctant to engage in small talk. Idzik called Revis a month ago, but it was only to smooth things over after fumbling Revis-related questions in his introductory news conference.

The Jets have to be careful here. Their brand took a big hit last season, the fan base is angry and Johnson has PSLs to sell. If he alienates his best player and trades him for a second-rate package, it'll be a public-relations disaster of epic proportions.

As for Revis, he needs to chill, concentrate on his rehab and gear up for an extended poker game between his agents and the Jets.

W2W4: H-e-e-e-e-re's Johnny

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
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For the second time in 16 days, the Jets will hold a major news conference. This time, it's to introduce former Seahawks executive John Idzik, who was hired six days ago as the general manager.

Idzik, owner Woody Johnson and coach Rex Ryan are slated to attend Thursday's news conference. It will begin at 11 a.m. at the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J.

What to watch for (or what Jets fans want to hear):

1. Why Idzik?: The Jets' roster needs a major upgrade, yet they hired an executive whose specialty is the salary cap and contract negotiations. Johnson needs to explain to fans why he believes this model will be more fruitful than the previous one, which also was built around a GM (Mike Tannenbaum) who made his bones on the business side.

2. Johnny Be Good: After two decades as a background player, Idzik steps into the spotlight for the first time. No matter; he needs to take charge and spell out his vision for the franchise. The fan base has suffered enough; it deserves answers, not PR babble.

3. The quarterback situation: This is the hot-button issue. Will Idzik keep Mark Sanchez and his $12.8 million cap charge? Will he send Tim Tebow packing, like everyone believes he will? Nothing riles up New York fans more than a quarterback controversy, and they want to know how the new executive in the room -- the so-called answer man with an Ivy League education -- will sort out the messiest quarterback situation in the league.

4. The Rex Factor: Idzik and Ryan have nothing in common other than the fact their fathers are former Jets assistant coaches (about 10 years apart). Oh, yes, Idzik and Ryan also worked as ball boys at Jets training camps. That alone won't make this a successful marriage. Everyone wants to hear why Idzik would take the job knowing he had to keep Ryan for at least a year.

5. Sailing to Revis Island: Darrelle Revis will be an unrestricted free agent in one year. Tough call for Idzik: Does he sign him to a long-term extension coming off major surgery, let him play out the deal or trade him? Idzik is known as a skilled negotiator; he'll need those talents to deal with Revis' hard-line agents. It's be interesting to get his take on Revis' future and other contract/cap-related issues.

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