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Woody Johnson demands more from Jets, criticizes Zach Wilson

Jets owner Woody Johnson did not mince words when it came to how he felt about his team’s shortcomings in the 2023 season.

Johnson, speaking with reporters prior to Thursday’s NFL Honors show, was critical of Zach Wilson and made it very clear that head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas have one last chance to turn things around.

“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,” Johnson said. “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.”

Johnson stopped short of issuing a playoffs-or-bust mandate, but said, “we have to do a lot better than [win] seven games.”

The Jets entered last season with sky-high expectations after acquiring Aaron Rodgers, but those dreams of chasing a Super Bowl were shattered after he tore his Achilles on the fourth play of the season.

When asked what was it like losing Rodgers, Johnson replied, “What does it feel like having your arm chopped off? That’s about it.”

The Jets instead had to turn to former No. 2 overall pick Wilson, whom they kept on the team after acquiring Rodgers, but he continued to struggle and was benched for Tim Boyle at one point during the season.

“We need a backup quarterback,” Johnson said. “We didn’t have one last year.”

While Johnson is hopeful that the return of Rodgers can help close the gap and end their 13-year playoff drought – the longest in the NFL – he was adamant that the offense would remain a high priority and even called out the defensive-minded Saleh to be more involved.

“He’s going to concentrate on offense,” Johnson said of his head coach. “He’s got [defensive coordinator] Jeff [Ulbrich] to kind of do the defense, and we’ve got good special teams. It’s offense, offense, offense.”