FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets owner Woody Johnson declined Thursday to give a vote of confidence to coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, saying it's not his policy to give evaluations during the season, but he left no doubt that he's bitterly disappointed.
"I didn't sign up for a 3-6 season," Johnson said on the practice field, speaking to reporters for the first time since the week of the opener. "We haven't had one of these in a while. I'm not happy about it, yet I'm optimistic that some of these things can be corrected."
Johnson got chippy when asked to clarify his involvement in the Tim Tebow trade, widely considered a bust and a distraction to the team. It has been speculated that Johnson orchestrated the deal to sell tickets. He said Tannenbaum has the final call on all football decisions.
"This, I really want to clear up," he said. "You guys have been accusing me, this phony story of me being more concerned with PSLs or cash or something else. My job – one, two and three -- is to win games. That's why I got into this to begin with. It's to win games. ... It's not to sell PSLs or to sell hot dogs."
Johnson decided to speak to reporters one day after some players, quoted anonymously in a newspaper report, ripped Tebow. Johnson, echoing the sentiments of Ryan, condemned the unnamed players, saying they have no credibility.
"If somebody's anonymous, who is it?" he asked. "It's just something out of thin air, essentially."
Interestingly, Johnson was less effusive about Tebow than he was a month ago, when he told a TV interviewer that he expected the backup quarterback to be with the Jets for the remainder of his contract, through 2014.
Asked if he regretted the trade, Johnson said he didn't want to comment on individual players.
In a 10-minute interview, Johnson was alternately disappointed and optimistic. He bemoaned the team's penchant for committing game-changing mistakes, misspeaking by listing "foot faults" among the weekly blunders. But he praised the team for staying close "in every game."
In fact, that's not true. The Jets have lost three games by at least 21 points, including last week's 28-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
"(I'm) in a lot of pain this week -- again," he said. "To lose in this game, it's a miserable experience ... it's tough, tough to lose any game, particularly as many games as we've lost this year."
The Ryan-Tannenbaum regime is 31-26, plus four playoff victories, but the team has been in a downward spiral since losing the 2010 AFC Championship Game. Since then, they're 11-14.
Johnson refused to focus on the long view, commenting only on this season. And he wasn't happy. The last time he appeared this disappointed, at least publicly, was at the end of the 2008 season, when he fired Eric Mangini.
Asked whether he's happy with the performances of Ryan and Tannenbaum, Johnson said, "The record says what's going on. We're a 3-6 team. Are we happy? Are they happy? Are the players happy? I know the fans aren't happy. The answer is no, we're not happy. We're not happy with 3-6."
Johnson sided with his coach in the belief that the latest Tebow controversy -- the anonymous quotes -- may actually draw the team closer together. Earlier, Ryan addressed the topic for the second straight day, defending the open culture that permeates the organization.
"I know the culture of this team is a lot more positive than it is negative," Ryan said. "There might be negative people outside of these walls and the organization. We're not perfect. One thing we are and that's honest. We don't put muzzles on our guys.
"Maybe it's easy to say, ‘That's what they should do.' Well, that's fine. To me, I've never been a person like that. I believe guys have the right, covered by whatever amendment that is. Seriously, I think this team is close. Whether people want to write about it or talk about it, that's up to them."