Jets Takeaways from Robert Saleh's introductory news conference, including Woody Johnson's return and New York's organization structure

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Garrett Stepien
·6 min read
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Robert Saleh introductory press conference hands folded
Robert Saleh introductory press conference hands folded

Exactly a week since the Jets hired Robert Saleh, they introduced their new head coach Thursday.

Meeting with reporters via Zoom, the former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator from 2017-20 opened up about a range of topics as he embarks on his Jets journey.

Joined by Jets CEO Christopher Johnson and general manager Joe Douglas, here are six things to know from Saleh's introductory news conference.

1. After a stint as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom since 2017 officially ended Wednesday, Woody Johnson will once again become Jets principle owner, Christopher Johnson confirmed. Christopher Johnson further explained how his brother's return would impact New York moving forward.

"Actually -- interestingly, perhaps -- he's on a plane right now, coming back to the States," he said. "I think he lands in a few hours. When he is officially principal owner, we aren't exactly sure. That's something that has to run through the league. But he will be assuming his duties, essentially, as principle owner quite soon. He will be chairman. I'm going to be vice chairman. I'm going to be doing an awful lot of the day-to-day stuff. All of the final decisions will be his.

"But there are lots of things -- I mean, I've loved being in this building for the last four years especially, and I'm looking forward to continuing my involvement here. There's going to be a fair amount of continuity here. My brother and I work really well together. We enjoy each other's company. We think alike on most things. And when we disagree, we find a good place to settle on. So I'm really looking forward to working with him."

2. With Woody Johnson's return in mind, on top of a new head coach and the third year under Douglas as general manager, Christoper Johnson said that the Jets have made a reporting-structure change. However, Christopher Johnson downplayed a significant change to the Jets' overall operation.

"That structure has changed," said Christopher Johnson. "Joe will report to me. Robert will report to Joe. It seems a clean and simple way to do things.

"But honestly, not much really changes. We have a very good communication already. I don't think that that's going to alter things here all that much, truly."

3. Johnson and Douglas revealed why Saleh was the right fit for the Jets. On a personal level, the 41-year-old Saleh acknowledged a historic feat by becoming the first Muslim-American head coach in NFL history.

"It's humbling, it is humbling, because I didn't even (know) -- I wasn't even aware of it," Saleh said. "And especially back home, where I'm from -- Dearborn, Michigan. So there's a lot of pride. It is a very humbling experience. When you look at an NFL organization and you look at the locker room, it's like the ultimate melting pot of different people and different races and stories that get together with one goal. And so, to be a part of that is special and humbling.

"As far as diversity is concerned, I know the league has been doing their absolute best to ensure the minorities are included in the leadership roles of every organization. And they keep putting their best foot forward, with regards to getting it done. And even though the result may not be where the league might want it to be at this point, I know the league is working tirelessly to do their best every single year, recreating rules and trying to really encourage that development. And so, the league's going to get it right. There's no doubt in my mind, and I can see them working tirelessly to do so."

4. After a two-year stint with Adam Gase as the head coach, the Jets look for a culture change in Saleh. Despite inheriting a 2-14 team, Saleh embraces the challenge.

"I understand that, with regards to the past," Saleh said. "What we do challenge is everybody to really judge us on moving forward. When you look at the plan and what we have in place -- with regards to scheme, offense, defense, special teams -- and the mindset at which we're going to do it, there is an investment that's going to be made for one another, coaches to players, players to coaches, coaches to organization to everybody.

"And there's an investment that's going to be reciprocated. But understanding that the all-gas-no-brake mentality that we're going to have with the way we wake up in the morning, how we rehab, how we prepare for meetings, how take the practice field, how we're deliberate in everything we do will lead to the results that you'll see on Sunday. It will take time, but everything we do is going to be designed to win championships in the future.

"And so, when we talk about 'all gas no brake,' that mentality, waking up in the morning, putting your foot to the pedal and having that mindset -- again, go to bed better than you woke up. That's the mindset that we're going to have, and again, we are very confident that that's going to lead to championships."

5. Saleh will not call the defense, with a coordinator hire of former Falcons assistant Jeff Ulbrich becoming official Thursday. For the offense, Mike LaFleur -- a fellow 49ers assistant and passing game coordinator from 2017-20 -- leads the Jets as a first-time offensive coordinator but with years of grooming under San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan (2017-present).

"We're hiring Mike LaFleur as our offensive coordinator, so he's been -- everyone's familiar with the whole Shanahan system and what he's been able to create," Saleh said of LaFleur, who worked under then-coordinator Shanahan as an intern with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 and an offensive assistant for the Falcons from 2015-16. "Mike LaFleur has been with Kyle for ... going on eight years of professional football, which has been his entire career. And nobody in the world knows it better than he does. And so, to be able to have him and to get John Benton along with us as run game coordinator, really excited about them being able to install the system and implement the vision that we all want to see -- lot of pre-snap movement, lot of quarterback run mirroring with pass.

"There's going to be a clear identity of what we're trying to accomplish, down in and down out, on the offensive side of the ball, defensive side of the ball and on special teams, for that matter. And so, really excited about the vision that we have in place for the offensive side and there's no one better in the world than the people that we've hired to be able to do that. So it's going to be an exciting time for this organization."

6. While a quarterback situation remains in question for the Jets with Saleh noncommittal to Sam Darnold, a plan for the 2021 NFL Draft's No. 2 overall pick is too early to tell.

"With regards to the draft, again, there's a lot of different moving parts between now and then," Saleh said. "And there's going to be many, many conversations with Joe and his staff and how things work -- what we like for our scheme and how they evaluate talent. And so, there's a lot of conversations that will take place between now and then. And so, to give you that answer would be a bit premature."