Jets Owner Woody Johnson Backs Sanchez, Understands Frustration at Season

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson defended quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was the target of disparaging remarks by some of his teammates, while saying he understood frustration at the team missing the playoffs.

Johnson told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” yesterday that the Jets are having a difficult offseason after missing the playoffs.

New Yorkers don’t like losers and, even if it’s an 8-8 record, that’s not good enough here,” Johnson said. “They want a winner and there is frustration and that’s what you want.”

A New York Daily News article, citing anonymous Jets players, said Sanchez is lazy because he has no challenger for the starting quarterback role and that he hasn’t improved as much as expected in his third year as a National Football League quarterback. Johnson said criticism of Sanchez’s work ethic was unwarranted.

“He’s the first guy in the building every morning and the last guy to leave,” Johnson said. “He’s an NFL quarterback.”

The Jets ended the season with a three-game losing streak, during which Sanchez threw seven interceptions. The team’s offense ranked 25th out of 32 NFL teams, while the running game ranked 22nd this past season. New York reached the AFC championship game the previous two years with a rushing attack that led the NFL in 2009 and ranked fourth in 2010.

The Jets two days ago appointed former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator a day after Brian Schottenheimer resigned following six years with the team.

Lack of Chemistry

Coach Rex Ryan said Jan. 2, a day after a season-ending 19-17 loss to the Dolphins, that he failed to read “the pulse of our team” and didn’t appreciate the extent of a lack of chemistry. Rookie quarterback Greg McElroy told a Birmingham, Alabama, radio station two days later that he had never seen so many selfish players on a team.

Johnson said Ryan understands he made a mistake in his handling of the locker room. A four-month lockout as players and owners wrangled over a new labor contract didn’t help, because it meant the Jets had to hold training camp in Florham Park, New Jersey, instead of their regular preseason facility in Cortland, New York, Johnson added.

“Now, how do you correct that?” Johnson asked about team morale. “That’s alchemy. Inside the locker room, it’s one of those things that, every year, it’s a little bit different -- 30 percent new players and the fact we didn’t go to Cortland hurt us.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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