While Jets normally fall under the scope of aeronautics, New York’s football team that’s been grounded for years has a new mantra related to the rules of the road: “All gas, no brake.”
That’s the philosophy of new head coach Robert Saleh, who was officially introduced as the leading man of the New York Jets on Thursday afternoon — tasked with being the man to finally turn around a franchise that has been so maddeningly inconsistent for decades and more recently, a laughing stock in the NFL.
So what does it mean?
“We’re not talking about effort on the field. We’re talking about the process in which we do things,” Saleh said. “We’re talking about the way we prepare, the way we wake up every single morning, the way we rehab, the way we communicate, the way we speak to one another.
“I can’t tell you enough about how excited I am to work with this entire Jets organization and understanding that when we wake in the morning, we will all, from top-down, step on the pedal and find a way to get somewhat better than when we woke up.”
The 41-year-old impressed Jets brass in his two meetings — one virtual, one at team facilities — after a successful stint as defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers where he built a reputation of being a beloved coach to work and play for.
“When I walked out of that building, there was no doubt that this was home,” Saleh said.
“What kept coming back time and time again was how great a candidate coach Saleh was,” Jets GM Joe Douglas said of his coaching search. “When we talk about our criteria in what we’re looking for in a coach, he checked all those boxes… Getting an opportunity to meet him for the first time just confirmed what everyone had said about him.”
“He communicated a vision of this team that aligns with ours. When we met in person, it validated everything we believed,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson added. “He’s a leader, one that will engage the entire team and will partner with Joe to continue building the culture of a winning organization.”
It’s all built on respect and a family-first mentality that has been a cornerstone of his values from growing up in Dearborn, MI to working in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and 49ers.
“In my heart, I do believe that there’s a respect level with regards to how things get done when people are trying to do things together,” Saleh said. “Sometimes there’s this notion of ‘coaches coach’ and ‘players play’ and I’ve never taken to that notion. I believe that coaches and players are in this thing together. I believe the investment the coaches put in the players has to be the equivalent of the investment you put in your children.
“You have to invest everything you have in your heart and your soul into those players because they’re relying on you to help them to be their absolute best so they can showcase their skills on Sunday.
“I think when players feel that investment and feel that you’re giving them everything you have, I think that can help reciprocate that investment and invest back in you as an individual… It becomes personal. When it becomes personal, it becomes very, very special and I think that’s the environment we’re trying to create here.”
The hope is that such an attitude can help catapult the Jets back toward legitimacy, but it’s a process that will require baby steps.
“It will take time but everything we do is going to be designed to win championships in the future,” he said.