There is nothing new about the phrase "long-suffering Jets fan," because over the last 50 years there's no doubt they've all suffered enough. Right now, they're in the midst of a particularly difficult period. This is the longest stretch without a playoff berth for the Jets in almost 40 years.
That's why the biggest fear of those long-suffering fans who heard the Adam Gase press conference on Monday is that when it comes to this current playoff drought, eight years still may not be enough.
"The fans do deserve better, no question about it," CEO Christopher Johnson said. "I do have high expectations. But there will be no playoff mandate. I'll never do that. Absolutely not."
At that moment, it was actually possible to feel the eyes rolling throughout Jets Nation, where a generation of fans only knows about the playoff experience from what they've heard from friends. Todd Bowles was fired because he couldn't get the Jets to the playoffs in his four seasons, which followed four playoff-less seasons from Rex Ryan.
And now the new boss is going to be OK with more of the same from Gase?
The short answer to that is, of course he isn't. Johnson wants the suffering to end.
The longer answer is that of course Gase and GM Mike Maccagnan have a playoff mandate, whether Johnson says it or not. Maybe they won't be fired if they don't get the Jets to the postseason in 2019. This isn't a one-year plan. But they better get there quickly, because after three straight 10-loss seasons, Johnson is as frustrated as his fan base. And both his new coach and his old GM are going to be on a very short leash.
Granted, Johnson isn't crazy or stupid enough to say that, even though it may have been what the fans wanted to hear. Nothing would fire up a fed-up fan base like the words "Win, or else." But, truth is, good franchises aren't run that way. Coaches don't get just one year to implement a program. Of course they want instant success. And sometimes that takes time.
Sure, Maccagnan has had four years already with poor results. He probably deserves a "win, or else" edict at this point. But Johnson boxed himself into a corner when he kept his GM and fired Bowles. At that point, he committed to at least two more seasons with his general manager. He can't give Maccagnan input in the new coach, but then just one more season. What happens then? He brings in a new GM who has to keep Gase? Or does he fire the coach too?
That's how bad franchises are run: with constant change, rash decisions and hastily arranged marriages. The good ones operate with patience, even though that can be painfully hard at times.
But patience has its limits, which is what the fans need to understand. When Johnson said "no playoff mandate," he wasn't accepting mediocrity. He was giving the people who now run his football program a chance. But he has made it clear he believes the pieces of a future contender are in place. They have the franchise quarterback, the third overall pick in the draft and $100 million in cap room.
The Jets have gone 14-34 the last three years. He's not going to stand for another 10-loss season again. He's not going to be happy if the postseason starts and the Jets are on the outside looking in.
If that happens, we might finally see the angry Chris Johnson. He's passionate about this team. He's invested in it, more than just financially. He seems to truly feel the fans' pain, and he wants to right this franchise's ship.
He also knows that fans don't trust the Jets, or him, and they're not exactly sure Gase was the right choice.
"I get it. I have to earn their trust," Johnson said. "I think that they'll see this, if not right now, they'll see it pretty soon as a great hire. I'm not trying to win Twitter. I'm trying to win football games.
"I think we're going to win football games here."
And he thinks they're going to win them quickly, preferably immediately. This isn't the start of a three-year or five-year plan. As far as Johnson is concerned, the Jets are several years into their rebuilding project. He is expecting a payoff. And he's not expecting to wait.
Can he say that? No. No smart owner would put that kind of pressure on a brand new coach. And it would be foolish to say it just to appease and antsy fan base. But those long-suffering fans can be sure Johnson's patience has worn pretty thin. Mandate or not, he expects results, and he expects them quickly.
He knows the fans deserve much better than they've gotten the last eight years.