The Jets HC has decided to take on a CEO-type role, rather than focusing on one facet of the game and calling plays. He noted that it’s a “learning curve” for everyone during his June 10 press conference with the Jets media personnel, himself included.
After a couple of seasons of watching former head coach Adam Gase totally disinterested in defense and special teams, it’s refreshing to see Saleh take on a more centralized leadership position.
As a matter of fact, that trend goes back further than Gase. Todd Bowles and Rex Ryan had the same deficiency, the only difference is they focused on their respective defenses. Saleh is looking to buck that trend and many others.
Saleh, the CEO
Everything about Saleh exudes confidence and professionalism, well besides the New York Islanders jersey, but even that gesture proves he understands the NYC area and its mentality.
That’s what you want in a CEO head coach; personality, relatability, pride, humility.
Saleh is known as a player’s coach because he speaks to his team as an equal when the situation calls for it, and a general when it doesn’t. You go to war for a man like that, and veterans like Carl Lawson and Sheldon Rankins have already expressed as much upon signing with the Jets.
Of course, besides demeanor, the other major difference under Saleh’s tenure will be the playcalling aspect. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will call the plays in 2021, just as Mike LaFleur will be entrusted with running the offense and Brant Boyer the special teams.
Even former Miami Dolphins coordinator Matt Burke was brought in to help Saleh with game-management and situational planning.
Saleh echoed that he’ll have his hands in all three aspects of the game, noting that “even as a defensive guy you still study the heck out of offense.” He added that LaFleur’s scheme is “not foreign” to him, after 12 years of sitting in on offensive meetings for the “Shanahan system.”
He described himself as “fortunate” to have those experiences with the offense asking questions and learning the installs. As a coordinator, Saleh stated that his goal defensively was always to “understand what’s happening to [his unit].”
Speaking of installations, Saleh spoke on how the players are adapting to the Jets’ new systems responding that “the main installations are done,” but that the gameday installations will take shape during the preseason.
“There’s a teaching progression,” Saleh explained, “the teaching of our techniques and the teaching of the fundamentals and the process at which we do things, those have been installed, so right now they’re out there practicing and they’re on repeat.”
Ulbrich and LaFleur both stressed a similar mindset that preached a sort of “detailed simplicity.” In other words, the Jets coaching staff wants their players to become experts at the basics (technique, fundamentals, awareness). It’s an old-school approach that is the total opposite of Gase’s needless complexities.
Learning Together Through ‘Adversity & Conflict’
Towards the beginning of the presser, Saleh fielded a question about the progression of Zach Wilson and the younger players, and the head coach’s response was pretty intuitive.
He said: “There’s going to be so much more to learn, and your best learning comes through adversity and conflict… until we actually hit adversity, will we be able to learn more about each other and how we handle things.”
That answer wasn’t just for Wilson, it was for all the Jets rookies and second-year pros, including the young secondary. Saleh acknowledged that it’s tough to learn an entirely new scheme, whether transitioning from college or Gregg Williams’ cover two base, but added that it’s an “opportunity for them to continue to grow.”
Whether speaking about himself or his players, Saleh used a lot of the same language throughout: “revisit, adjust, grow, reassess.”
They say that every writer should first be well-read, just like how every teacher must be willing to learn. Saleh is not afraid to learn from his mistakes, and he wants his players to develop that same line of thinking.
‘Goosebumps’ at MetLife
The head coach took his first trip to MetLife Stadium this week with his wife and kids, just to do a “walk-through” and see how things were set up.
Saleh said that he can’t wait for the fans to retake the stands, admitting that even in an empty stadium, the loudspeaker’s “Jets chant” gave him “goosebumps.”
The fanbase’s first chance to do so will be on August 14, in a head-to-head with the New York Giants. As excited as we all are to see Wilson and the new generation in action, Saleh might have us beat, you can see it on his face.