Perhaps the most interesting thing Christopher Johnson said about his early tenure as the owner of the Jets is that “I’m not Jerry Jones.”
That’s too bad.
Right about now Jets fans might like an owner with Jones’ hands-on temperament, someone who will make those responsible for the team’s meager 0-2 start accountable or at least uncomfortable. Rebuilding is one thing; being barely competitive is another.
A Jerry Jones-type might demand a little more from his players and especially his coaching staff after losing to the Bills, 21-12, and to the Raiders, 45-20. Instead Johnson sounded a lot like his older brother, Woody, by preaching patience.
“I hope the fans will buy into our plan,” Christopher Johnson said on Wednesday.
In his first interview with reporters, Johnson, 58, said he’ll make all football decisions while his brother, team owner Woody Johnson, serves a four-year term as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. Those decisions will include whether to retain head coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan after what is shaping up to be a horrendous season.
Johnson vowed he wouldn’t decide on the two most important jobs on the team until after the season and that the Jets’ won-loss record won’t be a factor.
“My brother once said he wasn’t judging the guys on the won-loss record, but on their progression, and I agree with that,” Johnson said. “This is a team on the rise. There’s some growing pains right now, but we have a great plan and I’m going to do everything I can to support the people in this building.”
The Jets have told us about their plan, which is certainly logical. They got rid of overpriced, aging veterans and are trying to rebuild with young talent. Every player selected in the last two draft classes has made the team. And even if it’s in the Jets’ long-term interest to get one of the top draft picks next spring to use on a prized quarterback, it’s never acceptable to go through the motions for 16 weeks. The Jets look in danger of doing just that.
Twelve years younger than his brother Woody, Christopher Johnson has been part of the Jets organization since it was purchased by the family in 2000. A tennis player and active outdoorsman, he works out five times a week and looks like he could go five sets with Rafael Nadal.
He feels qualified to handle his new position, saying he was present for all the major football decisions for the last 16 years and was a sounding board for his brother.
“It’s not like I’m a neophyte in the building,” he said.
As he sat in a starched white shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a green tie, Johnson spoke directly to the fan base when he said: “I bleed green like they do.” He admitted he’s “not a patient fan,” but urged Jets fans to be.
“I want to see this team progress every game,” he said. “I’m not happy with losses. I’m not happy with mistakes.”
Nonetheless, early signs point to Johnson retaining Bowles and Maccagnan no matter how poorly they finish. He said he admires Maccagnan’s drafts and Bowles’ connection with players. And if Woody truly has no say in football matters, it seems even more unlikely Christopher Johnson would change the entire direction of the franchise by firing Bowles and Maccagnan.
Still, this season can’t be a waste and that’s why he needs to be a bit more like Jerry Jones and make the players and coaches know they’re not getting a free pass.
He mentioned leaving Super Bowl tickets for Woody because “every little brother wants to show up his big brother.”
He’s got four years to do it. It won’t hurt if he acts more like an owner and less like a baby sitter.