Takeaways from Robert Saleh’s press conference

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Tyler Greenawalt
·5 min read
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Robert Saleh sounded excited for his first draft as an NFL head coach.

He spoke to reporters Thursday a week before the draft and shook off the idea the Jets will wallow in misery again. He also praised his offensive staff and showed appreciation for what Joe Douglas has already done to reshape the Jets for the 2021 season.

The Jets still have a long way to go, but Saleh remains positive about the team’s future as it heads into a pivotal draft.

Here are eight takeaways from his press conference.

Not the 'Same old Jets'

(Michael Reaves-Getty Images)

Robert Saleh isn't here for your "same old Jets" takes. He delivered a hoo-rah moment during his press conference in which he basically said he's excited about everything in the organization – from Joe Douglas' front office to his own staff, to the free agency class to the existing roster. Saleh credited everyone around him with being focused on the central goal of playing football and developing. That, he said, will change the narrative that has dogged the team for years. https://twitter.com/snyjets/status/1385321627404193800

Praise for Mike LaFleur

(John Froschauer-AP)

Saleh is a defensive coach, but he understands how good offenses work. According to him, the offensive game plan the Jets will run under Mike LaFleur is “the best scheme in the world," per The Athletic's Connor Hughes. That's high praise for a first-time offensive coordinator, but it makes sense if LaFleur brings the Kyle Shanahan-style playbook to New York. LaFleur started working with Shanahan in 2014 and Saleh began coaching against Shanahan's offense in practice in 2017. It's a high bar to set for a Jets offense that ranked at the bottom in the past two seasons, but they have nowhere to go but up.

C.J. Mosley will fit in the 4-3

(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Linebacker C.J. Mosley hasn't played for basically two years, but Saleh believes he'll be a perfect fit in the Jets' 4-3 defense under Jeff Ulbrich. “He’s been a fantastic player his entire life and that’s not going to change just because a new coaching staff has come in," Saleh said, according to NorthJersey.com's Andy Vasquez. Despite signing another inside linebacker in Jarrad Davis, Saleh said Mosley will still have a major role on defense and that he's "chomping at the bit" to get back on the field, per The Athletic's Connor Hughes.

Richard Sherman to New York?

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have a glaring need at cornerback and Richard Sherman, who played for Saleh in San Francisco, is still available to sign. It was reported earlier this week that Saleh would like to reunite with Sherman in New York, but the coach explained Thursday that that decision is up to Joe Douglas, not him. Sherman could still be an option for the Jets, but a decision on him likely wouldn't come until after the draft, where the Gang Green should target cornerbacks.

Building around a rookie QB

(Richard Shiro-AP)

Joe Douglas wouldn't say whether or not Zach Wilson will be the next Jets quarterback, but New York will draft one with the second overall pick. That comes with a lot of potential issues for a team that hasn't developed young passers well, but Saleh doesn't think there's a problem with building your team around a rookie quarterback. "There's no risk," Saleh said, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. Saleh added that there isn't pressure on himself, either, by starting with a rookie over a veteran quarterback. Whether or not that's true remains to be seen. The Jets still have a lot of work to do in building a quality offense around a rookie. They failed Sam Darnold over three years, but maybe Douglas and company can do better this time around.

Excited for Darnold

(Sean M. Haffey-Getty Images)

Saleh didn't spend too much time with Darnold before he was traded to the Panthers, but the Jets coach said he's happy for the former Jets quarterback.

“There was a lot of evaluation that took place [before the trade]," Saleh said, according to SNY. "It's a great opportunity for him to fulfill what he's capable of being the No. 3 pick." He'll get to see just how well-off Darnold is when the Jets take on the Panthers during the 2021 season.

Happy with new defensive line

(Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)

Saleh seems quite impressed with how the Jets' revamped defensive line looks after free agency. Douglas went out and grabbed two quality edge rushers in Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry and added interior defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins. That group will join Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers and Foley Fatuski to create a great six-man rotation on the line. "It's a cool start, that's for sure," Saleh said, according to team reporter Ethan Greenberg. "It's got a chance to be pretty disruptive." The use of the word "start" may signal the Jets are still looking to add another lineman in the draft. Saleh's defense could always use more pass rushers and the Jets have the picks to go out and grab one early if a great prospect falls.

Jets showing up to voluntary workouts

(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets were among the teams that released a statement saying that some players would opt out of the voluntary offseason workouts because of the ongoing pandemic. The statement didn't specify who or how many would and wouldn't participate, but Saleh said the team had a "strong" presence this week after workouts began on April 19. “We’ve had such a strong presence here – much stronger than I anticipated," he said, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. "The ones that were here are going to benefit.” Teams weren't able to practice much last offseason because the pandemic forced everyone to close their facilities until late in the summer. This year, though, the NFL opened in-person voluntary workouts on the same day for all teams but also included virtual meeting options.

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