Jets GM Joe Douglas praises Robert Saleh's first season: 'We're fortunate to call him a teammate'

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  • New York Jets
    New York Jets
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Robert Saleh
    American football coach
Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh talk during Jets practice
Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh talk during Jets practice

When Robert Saleh was introduced to the media back in January following an extensive Jets head coaching search by GM Joe Douglas, the latter said that the former understood the task at hand. It wasn't going to be a playoff-first mindset in Year 1. Saleh was going to have to set a foundation, and most importantly, develop the young talent on the roster.

Four wins came out of that, and Douglas admitted that's of course not enough. But he couldn't be happier with how Saleh and his staff conducted themselves all year long.

"There’s a lot of excitement with our players and that primarily has to do with the man sitting to my left and the job that him and his staff have done this year," Douglas said at the team's end-of-year news conference. "Just talking about coach and his staff, when we set out to find the right person to lead this franchise, some of the biggest things that we were looking for was someone who could teach, who could inspire and who could lead. We have that in Coach Saleh and his staff.

"We’re fortunate to call him a teammate and really can’t praise him and his staff enough for the player development job they took on this year – a monumental player development task with many first-and second-year players that we had. Him and his staff didn’t dip their toe in the water – they cannonballed in. I appreciate the way they attacked that and you can see the growth from our young team as the season progressed."

It is true what Douglas says about this being a daunting task for any coach, not to mention one that's never been a head coach before. Douglas had to find the right guy to lead his very young roster full of draft picks he selected. If the development goes wrong, Douglas will likely be out the door as well.

But though the Jets didn't see many wins at the end of the day, they were competitive throughout the season. They shocked the Cincinnati Bengals with a backup quarterback. They should've beaten the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- OC Mike LaFleur unselfishly shouldered all the blame. They lost but they did not do so in embarrassing fashion but by taking games all the way down until the end with a rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson, and many others in Year 1 or 2 of their NFL careers.

And throughout this process of developing players, Saleh discussed the relationship he now has with Douglas.

"I think what’s very clear even though a lot of people may not see it, I think the way Joe and I see football is identical," Saleh explained. "We believe that it starts in the trenches, we believe in the same character, we believe in the [same] type of player, we believe and see things very similar. His ability to challenge me from a coaching standpoint, my ability to challenge him in regards to being a GM, the conversations that we can have without anyone taking it personal I think is healthy. Very, very healthy.

"I think because of it there’s a lot of trust between Joe’s staff and the coaching staff. Because of that, I think we can make very sound decisions in the best interest of the team moving forward. I think it’s awesome."

Said Douglas:

"Coach touched on the ability not to take things personal. I think that’s one of the cool things about our relationship: We can just set our ego aside and focus on what’s best for the team. Challenge each other and have open and honest conversations about different ideas and different things we can do."

It really doesn't get better than that from a first-year standpoint. But both parties know the Jets need to start winning games.

"There needs to be improvement," Douglas said. "I think everybody knows that. We need to be better than four wins, we need to be better than six wins in two years. There’s no question about that. The emphasis is on us to bring in the right type of person, the right type of people and winning games. Closing games out in the fourth quarter."

With four picks in the Top 38 of the 2022 NFL Draft, along with an ample amount cap space, Douglas realizes there's flexibility to work with. And he knows he needs to give Saleh and his staff better personnel to finally break that menacing playoff drought.

But one thing Douglas knows for sure: He got his head coach right. Now it's time to help him get more wins under his belt.