The Robert Saleh hire was met with enthusiasm from day one, which immediately felt opposite from Adam Gase’s tenure.
“You hire Saleh and just feel like that weight is lifted and hope has come back into your building,” offensive guard Greg Van Roten voiced when asked about the new vibe around camp after a challenging 2020 season.
The lineman might as well have been speaking for every New York Jets fan and player collectively with those eloquent words. We all felt the pain of the 2020 season as one, and now we hope Saleh’s the man to end the championship drought for Gang Green.
“It will take time, but everything we do is designed to win championships in the future,” Saleh told the media after being hired. The Jets HC continued to explain that he’s “very confident” that the franchise’s new All Gas No Brake culture is “going to lead to championships.”
That’s right, championships, meaning plural.
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It Was Saleh’s Destiny to Coach in New York
More than anyone, Coach Saleh cannot wait for the honeymoon period to end and the adversity to begin. He’s talked about this many times throughout the offseason, overcoming adverse moments together.
After all, adversity is what began Saleh’s career as a football coach. For those who haven’t heard the story, the man we now see running the Jets was actually a 22-year old employee entering the world of finance about 19 years before he was hired to head the Green and White.
Out of nowhere, tragedy struck many Americans in the form of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For Saleh, the calamity was personal.
You see, his older brother David worked in the south tower of the World Trade Center. Although David Saleh was able to survive the great tragedy, those painfully long hours waiting to hear from him changed Robert Saleh’s life forever.
That event reminded the coach that life is short — a lesson we all learned last week following the loss of Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp — so he decided he should spend it doing something he loves. An epiphany followed five months after 9/11 and from that moment on, Robert Saleh the football coach was born.
The Jets HC said: “It’s surreal, don’t you think? Through tragedy, I’ve been fortunate to have a series of events that have happened to me in a positive way. 9/11 triggered my coaching career. New York is where I was part of a [Seahawks]team that won a Super Bowl [XLVIII over the Broncos], so it’s my one and only Super Bowl. And now we’re here in New York as a head coach on the 20th anniversary, and we’re the 20th head coach for the Jets. It gives me goosebumps.”
Saleh has embraced New York as his destiny, and with a heartwrenching story like that one who wouldn’t? That’s why when Serby asked him why coaching in this city doesn’t scare him, Saleh had a confident answer.
“If you take care of your job and you do your job, and you win, you’re a winner. It’s no different anywhere else. If you lose, you’re a loser, it is what it is. You can’t control the volume at which people yell, but you can control the work that you put in every day and do your best to make sure that volume is positive,” he explained.
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Message to Fans Ahead of Training Camp
When asked why the Jets will win under this new regime, Saleh told Serby the following.
“We’re gonna win here because we have the right people, starting from ownership all the way down — players, scouts, general manager, coaches. I really believe we have the right people, people who absolutely love this game and will do everything they can to protect it. The message to the fans is that we are a young group, and it is gonna be an exciting journey, and we’re really, really excited to go on a journey with the fans and everybody involved with Jets Nation.”
A couple of those people he’s referring to are general manager Joe Douglas and owners Woody and Christopher Johnson. I know many Jets fans just cringed, but Saleh had very positive things to say about the brothers that serve as the franchise’s financiers.
“I judge ownership by support and what they’re willing to do for the organization to win football games, and Woody and Christopher, for that matter, have been nothing but supportive,” Saleh told Serby, adding that the brothers are “all-in” on winning.
The head coach also spoke on his GM, “[Joe] has got a tremendous amount of conviction, he’s got a philosophy, he’s got a standard, he’s got a core belief system in how he wants to operate every single day, how he scouts players, the vision of what his players will look like, and because of it, when he speaks, there’s a very consistent message that he delivers day in and day out. And because of that consistency and because of that conviction, you know it’s coming from his heart and there’s no fluff, there’s no B.S.”
During the Flight 2021 docuseries, Woody and Christopher Johnson both noted how Saleh and Douglas’ minds seem to be in “perfect sync” with how they want to build this organization.
In terms of teaching this team how to win again, Saleh stated that it comes down to “capturing those moments of success” and forming both “individual” and “unit confidence.”