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Christopher Johnson; Bowles is a Man of Few Words

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Christopher Johnson has taken over control of the NY Jets while Woody serves as Ambassador to the U.K.  Christopher spoke to the media on Tuesday. The full transcript appears below, here are some highlights.

  • Woody Johnson is completely out of day-to-day football operations.
  • Christopher Johnson says he doesn’t even discuss football with his brother Woody.
  • Christopher says he has always been in the background and in important meetings, so that has helped the transition.
  • The decision to keep Bowles and Macc or let them go won’t come down to wins and losses.

 

On how often he is in contact with Woody regarding the team…

Not at all. I’m in touch with him constantly, but none of it is about football – other than he said he heard from somebody that I was doing a good job.

On how he has been adjusting to his new role…

It’s interesting going from being in the background here, where I’ve been involved fairly deeply since the beginning. Now, I’ve come to the fore. I think the biggest adjustment is actually dealing with the public aspect of the game, but I’ve gotten more involved with everybody in this building – from the business side to the coaches to especially, the players. It’s been great. I’ve loved every minute of it.

On the dynamic with him and Woody regarding an important football decision…

Over the years, he always bounced things off of me and it would be great if I could do that with him, but he really has a full time job over there. We are not discussing football. He’s out of it.

On why Woody will not be involved…

He said I’m stepping away from football. That (ambassador) is his full time job. It’s a huge job.

On the fan’s perception of the organization and what he believes is fair and unfair about that perception…

One of my roles here is to get into the fan base a little bit more. That’s definitely one of my priorities this year, starting now, especially with this first home game. I can’t say what that perception is exactly. I hope it is that this is a team on the rise. There are some growing pains right now, no question, but we have a plan and I’m going to do everything I can to support the people in this building – in particular, Neil (Glat) and Mike (Maccagnan) and Todd (Bowles). I’ve been a fan since I was a little kid. I bleed green like they do. I’m hoping that they appreciate what we’re doing to get back to greatness.

On if it will be entirely his decision to evaluate Bowles and Maccagnan…

Woody isn’t involved in that at all.

On his role with the organization for the past 16 years…

I’ve been very much in the background, but I’ve been part of almost all of the major decisions. I’ve been in the room for pretty much all of the big changes and, even when I wasn’t, Woody was calling me up to ask me what I thought of things. To tell you the truth, that has made this transition a little bit easier because it’s not like I’m a neophyte in this building. There is still a lot for me to learn. I’m still working through my own progression here, but I think things are going pretty well.

On how often he speaks with Maccagnan and Bowles…

I speak with Mike almost daily. I speak with Todd a little bit less often. He’s a man of few words, you might have noticed that, (joking) so we get a lot said in a few conversations a week.

On the challenge of evaluating a head coach with a young roster…

My brother said early in the spring to not judge the team on wins and losses, but it’s progression and I agree with that. I think it’s going to be obvious to all if this team is progressing. There are so many young guys who, just because they aren’t bold-faced names, doesn’t mean they aren’t really talented. I think that we have a group of coaches, including Todd, who are really good at building those players up and teaching the roles these young players have to fill. I think you’re going to see a lot of progression, but it’s going to be obvious. You guys will probably let me know, but I think it will be obvious to all.

On the narrative that the 2017 Jets are tanking to get a quarterback in 2018…

It couldn’t be further from the truth. I want to win every game. Every player in that locker room wants to win and what you’re seeing I think are growing pains. These are young guys. There are some older guys on the team. Some of them, they’re doing an extraordinary job, but I think you’re going to see this team get better and better and better. That’s what I am looking for and we are definitely not tanking.

On Maccagnan and Bowles…

Let’s start with Mike. I think he’s proven over the years before he got here, that he is an extraordinary talent evaluator and I’ve seen nothing to dissuade me from that here. I think he’s very thoughtful, he’s very methodical and I’m really impressed with his drafts and his outlook. With Todd, much the same. I’ve been around a lot of coaches at this point. He has a connection with the players that maybe does not show up with you guys, but I’m in the locker room, I’m at the practices, I see him working with these young men and I think he strikes the right balance of really everything. I’m really impressed with him.

On Maccagnan picking a quarterback in the second round last year who is now third on the depth chart…

First of all, the quarterback position is really difficult to evaluate and we haven’t really seen where Christian (Hackenberg) might go. I’m really more about looking forward than looking back. Everybody is going to look back and find places where things have gone wrong. I don’t think that you can say that about Christian. I think that he has a lot of upside and I hope to see it.

On whether there is any concern about fan apathy…

I hope that the fans will buy into our plan and I’m looking forward to seeing growth. I’m extraordinarily excited about seeing the development of our young players, especially. I think that they’re going to see this team grow before their eyes. I think that that’s exciting. I can’t say whether they’re going to stay home, but I hope they don’t. I think it’s going to be an exciting season. I can’t wait for this first home game.

On his thoughts about the Jets run defense thus far…

A lot of mistakes. A lot of mistakes were made, but mistakes you can fix. That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to seeing fixed.

On if he can guarantee that some players will fix their mistakes…

Unlike (Joe) Namath, I’m not in the guaranteeing business, but I think you can count on things getting better there.

On the current direction of the Jets and if it will require patience from him…

I’m not a patient man. I’m like any fan – I’ve been a fan of this team all my life. Yes, you can look long term, but I want to see this team progressing every game. I’m not happy with losses, I’m not happy with mistakes, but I’m excited about the progression.

On his biggest challenge in his current role with the Jets…

What I really want to see happen is for us to go to the Super Bowl. I promised my brother I’d leave him two tickets at will call (laughter), because every little brother wants to show up his bigger brother. The biggest challenge is to earn the trust of the fans, to have them know that I care about this team deeply and I’m going to do everything I can to make it a great team again.

On whether the general manager and head coach will continue to report directly to him…

Nothing has changed from my brother’s approach to mine.

On why the team waited until Maccagnan and Bowles’ third year to re-tool and get younger…

That’s a good question. It’s hard to look back. Sometimes you can look back and things look really clear, but a couple of years ago we had a pretty good run there. It seemed like we had unlocked some of the keys to moving forward. What our plan is now, I think is a good one, and I think it’s the way to bring us forward. I just can’t look back and criticize that too heavily.

On when he believes the Jets should be a playoff team…

I have no date in mind. I can’t speculate on that.

On the Jets loss versus the Raiders…

It was lopsided in the end, but I think that there were some great things in that game. Like I said, I look for progression in all aspects of play on the field, and I think that our offense – you guys might not have been impressed – but I thought that some great things happened in our offensive play. There were a handful of things that were great on defense – Jamal Adams’ tackle of (Marshawn) Lynch, that goal line tackle was one of the great plays I can ever recall. I want to see more of that. I want to see a lot more of that, but I hate losses as much as anybody else does.

On if he will judge Bowles on wins and losses this season…

No. Believe me, like any fan I like wins a lot more than losses, but that’s only part of the equation. The real way to judge this team and the people on it, me included, are we getting better?

On if he could foresee a situation where the team loses a lot of games and Bowles retains his job…

It’s not going to come down to games. It really won’t. It’s more about the play on the field. Are we getting better? Believe me, losses hurt deeply. I like wins a lot more, but it’s not going to be the sole or even a really important way for me to judge Todd or Mike.

On if he will evaluate Bowles and Maccagnan similar to how the Jets will evaluate players at the end of the season…

I’ll evaluate everyone, including myself, but it’s not going to depend on wins and losses in my mind.

On if players need to be replaced when they are not performing well or if they should stay on the field and grow on the job if they are younger players…

That’s going to be up to the Coach. That’s really going to be up to the Coach and Mike. I’m not yet Jerry Jones (laughter).

On why Woody accepted the ambassadorship to the U.K. and stepped away from the Jets…

I think you know that my brother has tried to serve his community over the years. That’s been a big part of his life is raising money for medical research and working on his community. This is his chance to serve the country, which he cares for very deeply, and he has an extraordinary job. I’m really, immensely proud of my brother. The U.K. is our most important ally, and this is probably the most interesting time in the U.K. – U.S. relationship since World War II, so it’s an immense job. I couldn’t be more proud of him and it doesn’t surprise me in the least that he would say to me it’s your team, don’t mess it up.

On if that is what Woody said to him…

Yes, he did (laughter).

On if has any indication of how long he will serve as Chairman and CEO…

When (Woody) comes back, he’ll take over again, and I’m not entirely sure about how long that is. So I’m going to make the most of it while I’m here.

On NFL owners he has spoken to for advice…

I’ve been talking with owners and soliciting their advice for the last several months, but I don’t think I’ll go into exactly who.

 

This Article Was Written By Phil Sullivan

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I started JetNation in 2005 and have been a New York Jets season ticket holder since graduating from high school. My dream is to see the New York Jets win the Super Bowl. Until then, I will be right here on JetNation writing, dreaming and talking NY Jets football.