NEW YORK — Jets owner Woody Johnson won't try to temper expectations for his team this season.
"I'm always optimistic," he said Wednesday.
On the same day the Jets announced that rookie Geno Smith would start the opener at quarterback, Johnson said he had no issue with the move that might have made that unavoidable – coach Rex Ryan's decision to use quarterback Mark Sanchez behind a backup offensive line in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. Then the presumptive starter, Sanchez hurt his throwing shoulder on a hard hit and could be sidelined for several weeks.
Johnson wouldn't talk about Ryan's long-term future with the franchise, but he had nothing but praise for his coach.
"He is a great teacher, a great motivator," Johnson said. "He's an excellent head coach, in my opinion. I think we're lucky to have him."
The owner also supported Ryan's trip to see his son at Clemson on Saturday on the day teams made final cuts. Ryan's son is a walk-on for the Tigers and didn't play in their big win over Georgia.
Johnson said, "I would have gone, too."
"He'd done his work," he added. "He was available by phone if we needed him. He'd made all the calls to the players. He regretted that his dad never came down to his games; he wasn't about to make that same mistake."
Johnson fired general manager Mike Tannenbaum in the offseason but kept Ryan after a 6-10 record. The coach isn't left with many playmakers on offense or defense after the trade of Darrelle Revis.
Johnson won't call it a rebuilding year.
"Every year you're rebuilding a little bit," he said. "Maybe it's slightly more than normal."
Johnson was in Manhattan to promote February's New York/New Jersey Super Bowl. Jets fans need no reminder that their team hasn't played in that showcase event since 1969.
The owner insisted the club isn't too far away.
"It's going to take a lot of perseverance and dedication and good training. All those things we have in place," Johnson said. "We will give it everything we've got. You will see it on the field. You'll see it the first game 1 o' clock on Sunday."
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