After six straight seasons out of the playoffs, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is approaching 2017 with modest expectations. He wants his team to be judged on progress, not wins and losses.
"Really, the way I want to be judged, hopefully from the fans' standpoint, is just watch how we improve during the year," Johnson said Tuesday on the Hahn, Humpty & Canty Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM during a charity event in Manhattan. "Look at each individual on the team, and if they're getting better, that's a mark of progress. That's what we're looking for."
The Jets finished 5-11 last season, prompting a roster overhaul that included the release of high-profile veterans such as Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall and Nick Mangold. The team is in the midst of a youth movement, which Johnson claimed is unprecedented under his ownership.
"If you want to go to the promised land, you have to go in a certain direction," he said. "I think this is a direction we've never tried in the 17 years I've been associated with the Jets. We've never gone this way."
Johnson said the goal is "getting the right type of player in the locker room ... young ... build through the draft ... young free agents that a lot of guys don't even pay attention to, the guys who weren't drafted. A lot of good players out there play American football, a lot of them."
Only two years ago, the Jets were one of the most active teams in free agency. They finished 10-6, but Johnson called that "lightning in a bottle. It wasn't something you could duplicate."
They tried to repeat it last season, fielding a veteran team, but they could not.
"We've tried a lot of different things," Johnson said. "We've got to find a quarterback. That's a goal. What we've done over the years is trade picks away and put too big an emphasis on free agency and not enough emphasis on developing our own."
When the season ended, Johnson said there was no playoff mandate for coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan, whose regime is 15-17 in two seasons.
"Judge it by progress," Johnson said.