Robert Saleh didn’t have to set such lofty expectations for Jets offense

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Tyler Calvaruso
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Robert Saleh was his usual jubilant and energized self during his pre-draft media availability Thursday, but one specific question got New York’s rookie head coach going to the point where he could not contain his excitement.

When quizzed about the direction of the Jets offense under Mike LaFleur’s leadership, Saleh wasted no time setting the bar for the unit high. He called his offensive coordinator’s system “the best scheme in the world,” per The Athletic’s Connor Hughes.

While all but certainly speaking in hyperbole, Saleh does have reason to be excited about LaFleur’s system given his experience watching it thrive up close with Kyle Shanahan calling the shots in San Francisco. Saleh just didn’t have to set the bar so high given the product the Jets have put on the field the last two seasons.

Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains (mostly Gase except, that stretch he sort of, but not really, allowed Loggains to actually do his job instead of functioning as a glorified clipboard holder and challenge flag-thrower) orchestrated one of the worst offenses in football in their two years with the Jets. New York’s offense never took flight with Gase and Loggains running the show, ranking dead last in 2019 and 2020 — a level of incompetence Rich Kotite couldn’t even match on his worst day.

Gase and Loggains derailed Sam Darnold’s development to the point where Joe Douglas felt the need to trade him and take his chances on drafting a rookie quarterback. They never made any sort of effort to allow Robby Anderson to grow and allowed Frank Gore to work as a feature back despite being in the twilight of his career and a stable of young, promising running backs waiting in the wings behind him. The Jets weren’t exactly loaded with talent the last two seasons, but Gase and Loggains did absolutely nothing to maximize what they did have in the building.

It can be argued that even though LaFleur has never actually worked as an offensive coordinator, he is already better at calling plays than Gase and Loggains ever were — except when Peyton Manning was busy carrying Gase with the Broncos. Shanahan was at the forefront of the 49ers’ offensive scheme when LaFleur was in the building, but he did have his say in shaping San Francisco’s passing attack and its success with play-action, which is set to be a staple of the Jets’ offense in 2021 and beyond.

Saleh’s optimism is refreshing. There hasn’t been much reason for anyone at One Jets Drive to express any sort of hope the last two years, but his arrival changed all that. There just wasn’t any need for him to set such high expectations for LaFleur and his offense.

As long as LaFleur shows up for work once Week 1 rolls around, there is a good chance he’ll have accomplished more in his first four quarters as a primary play-caller than Gase and Loggains ever did during their time on the sideline with the Jets. For now, that’s more than enough.

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