Jets owner flip-flops on team-building philosophy

Woody Johnson means well. I believe the man desperately wants to win a Lombardi Trophy -- he's more competitive than people realize -- but he's a pendulum when it comes to his team-building philosophy. And that's one of the reasons why the New York Jets haven't won a championship.

On Wednesday, the Jets' owner made an appearance on ESPN New York 98.7 FM, and he was asked by host Mike Lupica if he imposed spending restrictions on former general manager John Idzik. In 2014, the Jets had the league's lowest payroll at $99.4 million, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Johnson's response:

"I would never tell the general manager not to spend money. That's something the general manager has to do. I mean, that's his chief job. That's the most important job he has to do, spending and putting together the 53, plus the practice squad

"I'm not going to say to him, 'Save it.' That's ridiculous. We're in this to win it. ... We're in the win business. Reserving firepower in terms of cash for some future date is not part of the makeup of the New York Jets. We will spend what we are allowed to spend, to try to make us as competitive as we can be."

This is what Johnson told reporters Oct. 2, when he defended Idzik's conservative spending habits:

"That's one of the reasons I hired him, because he is deliberate, he does look at these decisions in a holistic way in terms of how they're going to affect the team's long-term success. I think he's very good at that.

"We're trying to build through the draft. We'll do an occasional free agent, but the free-agent market isn't a panacea. We're trying to make wise investments to build a team through the draft.

"When I grew up, I always had a reserve, and you don’t spend your last dollar."

That's what you call a philosophical 180.

Looking back, maybe Johnson didn't issue a "Don't spend" edict to Idzik, per se, but he tacitly endorsed the approach by hiring someone with that philosophy. Idzik's successor, Mike Maccagnan, already has stated that he expects to be "very active" in free agency. So, now, Johnson is talking about being aggressive.

The pendulum is swinging the other way. Johnson supporters will say he's entitled to change his mind, especially after 4-12 season, but this isn't the first time he has altered his approach. The most successful franchises adopt a philosophy and stick with it; they don't change based on the wind direction.

The positive here is that Johnson is returning to his comfort zone. For the most part, he has leaned toward the aggressive side during his 15-year tenure, perhaps because he had seven years with a GM (Mike Tannenbaum) who never took his foot off the gas pedal. The Jets need to find a happy medium. Maybe Maccagnan is it.