FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Clearly, Christopher Johnson is all-in with Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan.
Ignoring the 5-10 record and focusing on the big picture, the New York Jets' acting owner delivered a strong statement Friday by announcing two-year contract extensions for his coach and general manager.
This means MacBowles is under contract through 2020.
For Bowles, it means he won't have to begin next season on the hot seat. Tacitly, a one-year extension would've created a playoffs-or-bust feel in 2018. Johnson is sending a different message with a two-year extension, but don't be fooled into thinking Bowles was handed another mulligan. The new deal doesn't make him fire-proof; he must continue to show progress. At least he won't have to stress over security, assuming the added two years are fully guaranteed and not funny money based on incentives.
What a turnaround. In September, Bowles was Dead Man Coaching. The anti-Bowles crowd will scream he didn't deserve the extra year. Evidently, Johnson has seen enough to believe he's the right man for the job.
In his first major moves as the boss, Johnson wisely opted for continuity and stability, demonstrating the kind of patience required to run a franchise. If he had fired one or both men, the Jets would've been in starting-over mode again.
Bowles and Maccagnan deserved the chance to continue the massive rebuilding project that started 11 months ago, when they began gutting an old and overpaid roster that included too many fat cats and headaches.
No one expected them to make the playoffs this season. Heck, no one expected them to win more than four or five games. They were supposed to be in contention for the No. 1 overall pick, but they've managed to squeeze five wins out of a flawed roster.
It wasn't lip service when Johnson said in September that his evaluation would be based on progress, not won-lost record. Good thing for Bowles and Maccagnan the newbie boss is a man of his word. If not, they'd be toast, because the Jets have lost 21 of their last 31 games, including eight of the last 10.
Bowles did what his boss wanted. He improved the coaching staff, changed the culture, developed some young talent and built a cohesive team that plays hard every week. He didn't pass the test with flying colors -- too many bad fourth quarters -- but he passed it and earned another shot.
But now he has to improve, especially in the area of game management. He has to clean up the penalties and figure out a way to get the Jets to perform in the fourth quarter.
Maccagnan's No. 1 job is obvious: find a quarterback who can stick around for more than a year. He missed with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, and now the pressure is really on. If he fails, he won't see the end of this contract. Neither will Bowles.