Speaking to reporters at minicamp, Jets owner Woody Johnson declared that he expects to see an improvement this season over the team's 8-8 record in 2013.
"8-8 was good, but I wasn't satisfied," Johnson said. "That's for sure. I'm not satisfied unless we go further than that."
Johnson was careful not to deliver any specific expectations of postseason football, avoiding putting pressure on a young Jets team. Internally however, he will expect this team to compete for a postseason spot after an offseason that finished last season strongly and features some good free agent additions and a solid draft.
The team's owner since 2000, Johnson started off his ownership in a quiet manner but started to take a more active role in the late 2000's. He signed off on free agent spending sprees, encouraged a more transparent and engaging approach interacting with the media, and in 2009 hired the brash Rex Ryan to be the team's head coach. Under Ryan's leadership the Jets have experienced some highs including back-to-back AFC Championship games, but at its worst Johnson's desire for the team to stay in the spotlight has made the Jets the laughing stock of the league.
In 2012 the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, a move that turned out to be a disaster and raised serious questions on the decision making process in the Jets organization. Those who followed the team couldn't help but feel Johnson was the man behind the trade, and that the team was prioritizing media buzz over methodical team building.
The conclusion of the 2012 season brought around some major changes, including a switch in general manager, team building strategy, and a refocus on how Johnson was spending his money. On the subject of spending, reporters asked Johnson about the large amount of cap space the team still has. He suggested it was simply part of the team building strategy, stating that the team's current cap situation was not a penny-pinching directive from Johnson but part of general manager John Idzik's methodical approach.
"John is using the cash that he has," Johnson said. "It's really trying to find the best value and the best fit for the team, not just wantonly spending in free agency and doing that. Our culture is one of building ourselves. We'd rather take a player in the draft, mold him into what our culture is and have him be a Jet for us. That's our ideal. Obviously, we got Eric Decker. We got some really good free agents. But we're not just looking to spend money. We want to make sure it's a value and it's a good fit for us."
The words are a welcomed change to Jets fans who have largely lived with the perception that Johnson cares more about creating a newsworthy franchise rather than a winning one. With that said, Idzik was hired because Woody Johnson did not want to spend the money like he had during Mike Tannenbaum's tenure as GM, and under Idzik the Jets have yet to give out a true top-dollar contract. The prospect of Muhammad Wilkerson signing a new long-term deal within the next year will be a major test of the team's willing to spend.
It will take a while yet to determine for sure if this team still has Woody Johnson influencing how this team is built, but both Jets fans and the team's owner should be able to agree: we should expect an improved New York Jets team this season.