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Jets owner Woody Johnson is ‘mad’ and puts Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh on notice, slams Zach Wilson

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson walks on the field before the start of an NFL football game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New York Jets Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson walks on the field before the start of an NFL football game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New York Jets Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh have been officially put on notice.

On Thursday night in Las Vegas, ahead of the annual NFL Honors awards show, Jets owner Woody Johnson spoke to reporters publicly for the first time since last March during the NFL annual meetings.

Johnson didn’t hide his emotions about Gang Green finishing 7-10 for the second consecutive year.

“They’ve seen me about as mad as I could 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. We’ve got to produce this year. This is not a playoff mandate, but we have to do a lot better than seven wins.”

When Johnson met with reporters at the annual meetings last year, he didn’t give a playoff mandate to Douglas and Saleh. Eleven months later, it certainly sounds like he is giving one for 2024.

Douglas became the Jets general manager in 2019. Since then, the Jets have a 27-56 record.

Johnson hired Saleh two years later, but the franchise has remained mediocre. Gang Green is 18-33 with Saleh roaming the sidelines.

The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, the longest postseason drought in North American sports. Many expected that to change after the Jets acquired Aaron Rodgers in a trade with the Packers last April. However, Rodgers tore his Achilles four offensive plays into the Jets’ season opener against the Bills on Sept. 11 and he didn’t play again.

“What does it feel like having your arm chopped off,” Johnson said about Rodgers’ Achilles injury. “That’s about it.”

Following Rodgers’ injury, Douglas and Saleh backed Zach Wilson, who once again became the team’s starting quarterback. However, Wilson struggled just like he had the previous season. His final numbers were 2,271 yards passing, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 60.1% of his passes in 11 starts.

That led to Wilson being benched for Tim Boyle before he returned under center after Boyle’s release. Wilson led the Jets to a 4-7 record before suffering a season-ending concussion.

After being selected second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Wilson was once believed to be the Jets’ future franchise quarterback. But after throwing for 6,293 yards, 23 touchdowns and 25 interceptions in three seasons, the Jets are expected to trade Wilson this offseason.

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

Their targets to upgrade their backup QB situation this offseason could include Ryan Tannehill of the Titans, Jacoby Brissett (Commanders), and Gardner Minshew (Colts), who will all be unrestricted free agents.

Gang Green will enter free agency with $4.9 million under the salary cap. However, the Jets have the ability to add close to $70 million with a few contract restructures.

Douglas and Saleh were both criticized for their decision to keep Wilson as the Jets’ starting QB. The only quarterback the Jets signed after Rodgers’ injury was Trevor Siemian, who started the final three games of the season.

During the last two years, the Jets offense has been one of worst units in the NFL. In 2022, Gang Green finished 25th in yards (318.2) and 29th in points per game (17.4).

The Jets and Mike LaFleur parted ways after the 2022 season, and Nathaniel Hackett was then hired as the team’s offensive coordinator. Somehow, the Jets offense was worse statistically last season. They finished 31st in yards and 29th in points per game (15.8).

Along with the quarterback position, the Jets’ offensive line has been a source of the team’s problems. Gang Green used 14 combinations in 17 games, leading the league.

Meanwhile, the Jets have fielded a top-five defensive unit for the last two seasons. That includes the 2023 season when Gang Green allowed 292.3 yards per game, which was third in the league.

“It has really been about the offense the last five years,” Johnson said. “The offense has to score to keep the defense off the field.

“We are developing a really good plan for free agency.”