Jets Owner Rips Wilson, and Puts Saleh on Hot Seat

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New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) is shown after his team fell, 27-6 against the Los Angeles Chargers.

(Las Vegas, NV) – Tell us how you really feel, Woody.

The New York Jets owner didn’t hold back Thursday night, ahead of the “NFL Honors” program. While listing off things the team needs to accomplish this offseason, Woody Johnson said “we need a backup quarterback… We didn’t have one last year.”

It’s fair to say that was a shot at Zach Wilson, who never lived up to his lofty draft position – having been selected 2nd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. And now the expectation is Wilson will be traded or released, especially given Johnson’s comments.

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Discussing the Jets’ offense, which sputtered last year after Aaron Rodgers was lost just seconds into the season, Johnson mused “What do we need? We’ve got Garrett Wilson. We’ve got Breece [Hall]. You’ve got [Alijah Vera-Tucker]. You’ve got [Joe] Tippmann. I think you need a guard at least. You need another guard, maybe a couple of tackles and a receiver. What else do we need?” When a reporter suggested a backup QB, Johnson agreed and made his “we didn’t have one last year” quip.

That said, it doesn’t sound like Johnson places all the blame on Wilson. If head coach Robert Saleh was counting on the soon-to-be-jettisoned QB as his scapegoat, he better think again. Johnson recounted his recent meetings with members of the Jets’ coaching staff: “The discussions I’ve had in the last couple of months, they’ve seen me about as mad as I can be, with what was going on with the offense particularly. We’ve got all this talent and we’ve got to deploy talent properly. I think they all got the message. This is it. This is the time to go. We’ve got to produce this year. We have to produce this year.”

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So does that mean playoffs or bust for Gang Green next season? Not necessarily. “I’m not a playoff-mandate [guy,] but we have to do a lot better than seven games,” Johnson explained. “(But) we have to do a lot better than [win] seven games. We have to definitely.”
Looking back on the lost 2023-2024 season, Johnson admitted it was painful to watch. He said watching Rodgers go down with his Achilles injury was like “having your arm chopped off.” Johnson still thinks the Jets’ have a defense that can compete for a Super Bowl, even if the other side of the ball is lacking: “It’s really all about the offense. For the last five years it’s been about the offense. The offense has to score, keep the defense off the field. The defense is good.” Johnson hopes Rodgers returning from injury will finally change that. “I think we can close it with Aaron Rodgers, for sure,” Johnson shared. “We’ve got a very good defense. If we can do anything on offense. We went games without scoring a touchdown. That’s absolutely incredible.”

And while the Jets try to turn things around offensively, and hopefully compete for that elusive playoff spot, they’ll be playing home games on artificial turf that routinely receives poor marks from NFL players. Meanwhile, for the World Cup in 2026, soccer players will be playing on natural grass. So what gives? “We discuss it at least once a week, what we can do and how we can do it,” Johnson responded when talking about playing on grass. “You know MetLife is the busiest stadium in the world, really. So, how do we do it? If we could do grass, if I had a tray or something … because you want to make sure grass is as safe in November, December and January as turf. Mud and rocks and all that, that can be dangerous, too. It’s going to get beat up. You’re going to have to change it. And then when you put grass down every couple of weeks or every month, it’s very spongy. It’s a different deal. When we did it for soccer last time, your foot kind of dug in. I’m not sure they’re going to like it.”

Aaron Rodgers of the New York Jets is shown on the sideline, Sunday December 24, 2023.

Undoubtedly many Jets (and Giants) fans reading will wonder: if it’s good enough for futbol, why fake grass for football? We may never know. Or, it’s all about money. Woody Johnson has plenty of cash, but no championship. He’s hoping the $37.5 million man (Rodgers) can change that.

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