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Frustrated Woody Johnson says Jets need to solve offensive woes; not issuing playoff mandate – Boston Herald

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Jets owner Woody Johnson had to suffer through watching his team’s archnemesis clinch a playoff berth on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Gang Green’s lackluster 11-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins was the team’s sixth in a row to end the season after it began December with a 7-4 record and one of the top seven seeds in the AFC.

Thursday was the first time Johnson has spoken with reporters since the NFL Owner’s Meetings last year. He declined to answer questions in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss.

“I think the best way to describe it is a rollercoaster,” Johnson said. “It was up and down and the down part in the last six games.

“It’s frustrating, very frustrating because I see the potential in the team and what Joe [Douglas] and Robert [Saleh] have done in improving the team and getting all those young unbelievable stars we have now. We have a lot of potential, so that makes it more frustrating.”

Johnson brought the Jets in 2000 and has seen his fair share of disappointment during the last 23 years. Since the Jets made back-to-back AFC Championships in 2009 and 2010, they’ve gone 12 consecutive seasons without making the playoffs. That is the longest current postseason drought in NFL and the second longest in the four major North American sports (Sacramento Kings, 2006).

The Jets and Saleh did improve from their 4-13 mark in 2021 as the team finished 7-10. However, after a 1-2 start, the Jets rallied to get to 6-3 at their bye week in mid-November. Then the bottom completely fell out to end the year. What hurts even more is the Jets had to watch the Dolphins celebrate their first trip to the playoffs since 2016.

Saleh will enter his third year as head coach in 2023, which will be a critical one for the franchise. Douglas is going into his fifth season as the general manager. It will be a lot of pressure on both Saleh and Douglas to end their playoff drought.

However, Johnson says they won’t give Saleh and Douglas a playoff mandate because they “don’t work.”

“Just take a look at the defense and where it evolved in the year,” Johnson said. “It gives you confidence that they can do it because they did go from last to kind of first.

“What was really lacking was the offense, as we couldn’t score points. You gotta be able to score those points in the red zone and so on. You gotta be more efficient.”

The Jets’ identity this season was their defense. After ranking at the bottom in total defense in 2021, the Jets finished fourth in yards allowed (311.1) and points allowed (18.6).

However, the Jets’ offense was mediocre at best as they ranked 25th in yardage (318.2) and 29th in points per game (17.4). The main culprit for the struggles on the offensive side of the ball is directly correlated to the quarterback position.

The Jets played musical chairs at quarterback for the bulk of the season. Zach Wilson began the year as the starting quarterback, but a preseason knee injury sidelined him and Joe Flacco started the season’s first three games.

When Wilson returned in October, the Jets were winning despite his play as he regressed from his rookie season. Following a dismal 10-3 loss to the Patriots on Nov. 20, Wilson failed to take any accountability after finishing 9 of 22 for 77 yards and the offense failing to score a touchdown. He was benched the following week for Mike White.

During the last six weeks, the Jets started Wilson, White and Flacco due to injuries and poor play from Wilson, who was benched for practice squad player Chris Streveler. In the last three weeks, the Jets failed to score a single touchdown as they averaged five points per game during that span.

The blame for Gang Green’s disastrous offense fell on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur as the two sides “parted ways” on Wednesday.

Now it appears the Jets could be in the market for a veteran quarterback like the Raiders’ Derek Carr or 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, as both are expected to be available.

Johnson said he is open to adding a veteran quarterback no matter the cost.

“That’s kind of the missing piece,” Johnson said. “Our defense was an unbelievable story this year. From last place to close to the top in defense.

“If you can do the same thing on offense, it looks pretty good. Our special teams is good, Brant Boyer, great coach. I think we are set, we just have to deal with the offense and the quarterback.”

Recently, Saleh said they want to continue to develop Wilson, but they have yet to commit to him as the starting quarterback next year. In two seasons, Wilson has thrown for 4,022 yards, 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while completing 55.2% of his passes.

Johnson believes the Jets should have added an experienced quarterback Wilson could have learned from after he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2021.

“No, I don’t think we did everything the right way,” Johnson said. “If he had sat behind a veteran, we didn’t have a veteran.

“I think we could have done a better job for sure and we will do a better job for sure.”

Thursday marked the 54th anniversary of Gang Green’s last Super Bowl win. Since Joe Namath and the Jets defeated the Colts, they haven’t won an AFC title.

Even with the lack of recent success, the Jets are increasing ticket prices by an average of 12% next year. Many Jets fans have been sick and tired of being sick and tired for decades as the franchise continues to be snakebitten with mediocre play.

Johnson had a message for Gang Green supporters tired of hearing the team is close.

“I don’t think our fans are tired of it,” Johnson said. “They can see with their own eyes what happened this year.

“I go to the parking lot every game and I talk to the fans and they’re not going to have time to be analytical with me because they’re usually cheering, Jets chants and all of that stuff.

“They’re optimistic, but they’ve been optimistic. I want to give them what they want and they want wins and they deserve wins. I’m going to try and do everything I can to make it happen for them. No stone unturned.”

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