FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Despite a 5-11 record, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said Thursday his confidence in Todd Bowles hasn't wavered, adding that 2017 isn't a playoffs-or-bust season for the coach.
"No, I really don't like mandates because they normally don't work -- lines in the sand, whatever," Johnson said, speaking to reporters for the first time since Sept. 7.
"You don't want to judge it that way," he continued. "The way we'll judge it is getting better each and every year and seeing it in our players -- our young players. Are they getting better or are they going the other way?"
Bowles missed the playoffs in his first two seasons, extending the Jets' playoff drought to six years, the franchise's longest since 1992 to 1997.
After a promising 10-6 record in 2015, Bowles slumped to 5-11 and came under fire because of late blowout losses and locker-room strife. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall compared the season to a soiled diaper.
"I'm still very, very (much) in his corner," Johnson said of Bowles. "He's very talented. I think he's going to get better -- as we all are, including me -- at what he does. I'm just so happy to have him, both he and Mike."
General manager Mike Maccagnan and Bowles were hired the same day in January 2015. Bowles has only two years left on his contract, which means he could be coaching for his job in 2017. Traditionally, teams don't let coaches enter their final year, creating a lame-duck situation.
"A lot of change is not the answer," Johnson said. "That's not the way to do it, in our opinion. You'll get to where you want to go sooner if you go down the path we're going to go."
In 17 years of ownership, Johnson has won only one division title. He said the Bowles-Maccagnan tandem is capable of winning a Super Bowl, but he refused to give a timetable.
"I'm not in this to come in second place," he said.
Maccagnan spoke in generalities, emphasizing the importance of the draft and long-term building.
"We know where we want to get to and we can't get there fast enough in our minds, but we also want to make sure we build this the right way so we don't have a situation where it's up and down, up and down every year," he said.
The biggest question is the quarterback situation, specifically Christian Hackenberg, who didn't play a single snap as a rookie. Maccagnan said Hackenberg made progress on the bench, but he declined to say if the former Penn State passer, a second-round pick, will be given a chance to compete for the starting job.
Johnson mocked an ESPN report in which an unnamed Jets coach said Hackenberg can't throw the ball in the ocean.
"I guess it depends what ocean," he said. "Maybe it was a small ocean. The EPA described that as no ocean."
After a pause, Johnson added, "No, that's not funny."
Johnson refused to address reports that president-elect Donald Trump is considering him for the ambassadorship to the United Kingdom. Johnson said it would be an honor, but he called it "all speculation" at this point.