Jets Owner Woody Johnson Says Overhaul Must Come Through Draft

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Have patience, the Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson, said Thursday, urging disgruntled fans to trust the team’s leadership as it begins to rebuild after a 5-11 season.

“I’m like the fans; I’m not essentially patient,” Johnson said. “But I know that planning is the only way to get anything done. You’ve got to stick to your plan.”

In his first remarks since electing to retain Coach Todd Bowles and General Manager Mike Maccagnan, Johnson set the stage for what could be a lengthy overhaul, saying that the Jets needed to become “younger, faster, smarter” and that the best way to do that would be through the draft.

Calls for patience and trust might not be what most Jets fans want to hear, Johnson acknowledged. But he said it was what they needed to hear.

“It’s the only way to really get better in the N.F.L.: to build with young players through the draft,” Johnson said. “It’s very hard to do it any other way.”

The Jets will pick sixth in the April draft, the same spot where they selected defensive lineman Leonard Williams two years ago, in Maccagnan’s first draft with the team.

“We want to build this the right way,” Maccagnan said, “so we don’t have a situation where it’s up and down, up and down every year.”

The Jets had high hopes for this season after just missing the playoffs a year ago. But they were not competitive in several games down the stretch, and locker-room disharmony was said to have been a factor in the team’s collapse.

Johnson said he had never intended to make a coaching or front-office change. Regarding Bowles, Johnson said he remained “very, very in his corner” and added that continuity was something he valued.

“I think continuity allows you to have success,” Johnson said. “Changing a lot, moving pieces, makes it much more difficult. I have a lot of confidence in Todd and Mike and their staffs.”

He pinned the struggles of this season more on injuries and underperformance from key players than anything to do with locker-room chemistry concerns, which he considered to be overblown. Johnson also gave Bowles some wiggle room for next season, saying he did not want to make a playoff berth a prerequisite for Bowles to maintain his job.

But Johnson said that he empathized with fans who expected better things from the team this season and that he did not blame them for leaving seats empty by the end of the year.

“I’m in the game of winning,” Johnson said. “Anytime we don’t win, I’m disappointed. We do this for our fans. Our fans want us to win. This is their team. When they don’t win, they’re disappointed. I don’t blame them. I’m disappointed.”

There has been considerable speculation that Johnson could be named as part of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration, with posts such as United States ambassador to Britain among those that have been mentioned. But Johnson declined to address the reports when asked how a move overseas would affect his role with the team.

“Let me just say it would be an honor to be considered for something like that,” Johnson said. “But that’s speculation, so I really can’t comment.”

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