When your football team is 2-8 after 11 weeks, just one season after finishing 2-14, it’s easy to lose the faith of the fanbase pretty quickly. Add in the fact that you’re coaching a New York City area franchise and that’s like lighting a cigarette after a gas leak.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh is in the midst of that now, and he’s experiencing all this while navigating a massive roster overhaul planned by himself and Joe Douglas. But is it fair to ask for more patience from a fanbase that’s given its blood, sweat and tears for 40-plus years of losing?
Yes, Saleh has gone through the wringer during his first season leading this organization but the former defensive coordinator always knew what he was getting himself into. He once explained why he didn’t fear coaching in New York and yesterday on November 22, Saleh addressed whether or not the swift criticisms from fans surprises him at all.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Saleh Doubles Down on Long-Term Plan
During the press conference, Saleh’s message was sympathetic but clear:
Those are fair questions Mark [Cannizzaro], I’m not surprised [by the impatience], I’ve been through — this is my fifth one going from Houston, Jacksonville, Seattle, San Franciso — this is exactly what it looks like and we’re not the only ones [that have rebuilt]. You look at Arizona and they’re in year three and they’re doing a heck of a job so like I said before, I respect the heck out of the urgency from the fans and the wanting to flip this thing but in fairness, this is the first time that this fanbase is actually experiencing something like this, usually it’s been a quick fix followed by a scramble. This is an actual plan. I feel like [Douglas] is doing a phenomenal job with a really concise plan on how to build from the ground up and there [are] a lot of exciting pieces on this team that are hidden in these losses but when you sit back and watch it from our perspective… it’s definitely going in the right direction and eventually, while frustrating today, it’s going to be awesome when this thing gets flipped.
The Jets HC added later that “one year in New York is like dog years” somewhere else. “It is euphoria or disaster, there’s no in-between,” he noted before reinforcing that they “embrace” the pressure.
There’s no doubt about it, Saleh isn’t asking for anyone to feel sorry for him and he’s certainly not feeling sorry for himself. His steadfast belief that he can turn this franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender will either become an inspirational tale for the ages or another fool hearty attempt that goes up in flames.
That has yet to be determined, but some fans aren’t even willing to wait a full season before deciding Saleh’s fate. NYJ supporter Steve Franklin gave his pitch to “FIRE ROBERT SALEH” on Twitter after the beef with ex-Jets HC Rex Ryan — which has since been resolved.
Another NY sports fan suggested that both Douglas and Saleh pack their bags.
A third fan tweeted on November 15, “Alright it’s officially ‘Fire Robert Saleh’ season cause you can’t be a defensive-minded coach and we keep getting violated like we don’t practice…”
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Is Robert Saleh Actually on the Hot Seat?
Heavy on NFL reporter Stephanie Otey interviewed NFL insider Steve Weissman ahead of Week 11 and she asked the analyst which first-year NFL head coaches are on the hot seat — if any.
“So Dan Campbell could be that guy,” Weissman began, “Arthur Smith, I mean, the difference between 5-5 and 4-6 is pretty big. So this week’s game against the Patriots is really important [ended up losing]. Since 1990, 30% of teams that started 5-5 made the playoffs. That’s kind of massive… Last week’s loss to Dallas was rough, but Smith took the blame. It was just one game. I think Arthur Smith is fine.”
The insider also discussed why Nick Sirianni should be fine but didn’t consider Saleh as an option to get fired. As we mentioned in our last roundtable discussion, Saleh and Douglas are tied at the hip for the foreseeable future and both should get at least one more season based on the original ‘2022 turnaround plan’ that was sort of outlined from the start.
Weismann put most of his focus on Detroit Lions HC Campbell and Jacksonville Jaguars HC Urban Meyer in terms of possible firings, explaining why during an earlier segment with Otey.
“Halfway through a season when you haven’t won a single game through [Week 11], I do think that’s a problem. Dan Campbell signed a six-year contract, I think they give him more than a year but [0-9-1] is not good. They ranked 28th in offense, they rank 28th in defense. They could be the first team to ever go 0-16-1 in a season. I don’t think they will [but] that’s a tough spot to be in if you haven’t won a game,” he voiced for the Lions.
“For me as well, the Jags right now at [2-8] with Urban Meyer, it’s not great… The defense has been a bit better, but Urban is an offensive guy and the offense is pretty bad. They’re second-worst in scoring, dead last on third down, second-worst in turnover differential. That’s not good. Plus, he had that incident earlier this year, [it] was a distraction for the team and in my opinion, in the NFL your head coach just can’t be a distraction,” added Weissman.
There you have it Jets fans, things could be worse! Trevor Lawrence was drafted to save the Jaguars and hasn’t made much progress either, while Detroit is the trainwreck that keeps on crashing.
Let’s put the fire Saleh talk to bed for a moment and reevaluate at the end of the season.