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Woody Johnson: Todd Bowles doesn’t have a playoff mandate

New York Jets Introduce General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: Head coach Todd Bowles of the New York Jets addresses the media during a press conference on January 21, 2015 in Florham Park, New Jersey. Bowles and General Manager Mike Maccagnan were both introduced. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

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Jets coach Todd Bowles missed the playoffs in his first season as head coach in 2015, then took a step backward in 2016. So does that mean he absolutely must make the playoffs in 2017 if he’s going to keep his job in 2018?

“No,” Jets owner Woody Johnson said when asked that question at his end-of-season press conference. “I don’t really like mandates because they normally don’t work - lines in the sand or whatever. You don’t want to judge it that way. The way we’ll judge it is getting better each and every year, and seeing it in our players, our young players - are they getting better or are they going the other way.”

The Jets did not get better in 2016, falling from 10-6 to 5-11. There’s a real chance they won’t get any better next year, either, given their uncertainty at quarterback and precarious salary cap position.

But Johnson says Jets fans should be confident that the team is heading in the right direction.

“I think that they have to have confidence,” Johnson said of Jets fans. “This is their team. They have to see what’s happening and have confidence that we have everything in place to make it better and give them what they want. So they can be proud of their team.”

Proud of their team or not, Jets fans may be getting impatient, as the Jets have missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. No Jets fan will want to hear that making it seven in a row in 2017 is acceptable.