He identified his mantra as “All gas, no brake,” and for a franchise that too often has been a broken-down green-and-white jalopy stranded on a highway to hell, Robert Saleh comes across as the right driver at the right time.
Rejoice, Jets fans:
Robert Saleh is, no disrespect intended, the anti-Adam Gase.
The Jets didn’t hire Saleh to coach Sam Darnold — or Deshaun Watson, or Justin Fields, or Zach Wilson, or whoever the yet-to-be-determined 2021 Jets quarterback is — and get him to an elite level. He was hired to coach the whole damn team.
Co-owner Christopher Johnson emphasized the word entire when he said:
“Robert has shown through his journey here that he is a leader, one that will engage the entire team, and will partner with [general manager] Joe [Douglas] to continue building the culture of a winning organization.”
Robert Saleh is a passionate man with a plan and a vision for a franchise that desperately needs an identity and a professionalism and a winning culture.
He is a man who values authenticity and accountability and humility.
He was hired because he is a leader of men.
He was hired to build relationships and connect with the players in a way that Gase never did, or could.
There is a reason why 49ers players swore they would run through a wall for him.
“There’s an investment that’s going to be made to one another,” Saleh said, “coaches to players, players to coaches, organization to everybody, and there’s an investment that’s going to be reciprocated … everything we do is going to be designed to win championships in the future.”
Every new head coach aspires to win championships. Some broach it, some don’t when they are introduced, and Saleh will learn soon enough that Jets fans will sell their souls to the devil for just one championship, the first one since Super Bowl III, so let’s hit the pause button on plural.
Todd Bowles moved the Super Bowl Trophy from the front lobby at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to the players’ lobby. His mantra — One Team, One Goal — was displayed everywhere. He never made the playoffs in his four years.
Gase? He grumbled behind the scenes about the high-ticket Le’Veon Bell signing. He greased the skids for Mike Maccagnan, the GM who was instrumental in hiring him, prompting Johnson to wait until after free agency and the draft to fire him and hire Douglas as GM.
“Everybody is communicating, there’s a collaboration, there’s a sense that everyone has each other’s back and there’s a sense of family,” Saleh said.
Gase seemed to put all his eggs in Darnold’s basket, in large part because the Jets had so much invested in their young franchise quarterback.
For Saleh, everyone will be Darnold. Or Watson. Or Fields. Or Wilson.
“I believe that the investment that the coaches put in the players has to be the equivalent of the investment you put in your children,” Saleh said.
The man knows — his seventh child is due in April.
“You’ve gotta invest everything you have in your heart and in your soul into those players,” Saleh said, “because they’re relying on you to help them be their absolute best so they can showcase their skills on Sunday. … When it becomes personal, it becomes very, very, very special. … When people invest in one another, you connect on a personal level, and when that personal connection’s made, you just feel like it’s a responsibility not to let that person down.”
Saleh wasn’t hired to give his defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich, the kind of authority over the defense that Gase gave Gregg Williams, bless his Cover Zero heart. Saleh will be the CEO of the Jets with Ulbrich as the defensive play-caller on game day and Mike LaFleur as the offensive play-caller. Same way that Joe Judge is the CEO of the Giants, with Jason Garrett as the offensive play-caller and Pat Graham as the defensive playcaller.
“This is an organization that has to work locked in arms and work together,” Saleh said.
He is the right man to pilot the Jets and take them off the tarmac of misery even as he recognizes that taking flight will take time during a rebuilding process.
“You can’t hide from the past,” Saleh said.
He just won’t look back.
“I promise that you’re going to love what y’all see,” Saleh said.
Dearborn, Mich., is the tight-knit community where Saleh learned about togetherness. He is the first Muslim NFL head coach, and he should be proud. In this world, it also forces you to be comfortable in your skin.
“In moments of adversity, your true character will always reveal itself,” Saleh said.
He has drawn comparisons to one of his mentors, Pete Carroll, the Dale Carnegie of NFL coaches. But Saleh will be his own man.
“To answer your question on who I’m going to be like — I’m going to be like me,” Saleh said.
Rejoice, Jets fans.
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]