CBS Sports graded all of the NFL’s head-coaching hires and gave the Jets an 'A' with Robert Saleh.
"Saleh is an intense, player-friendly defensive coach entering his first job atop a staff," CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin wrote. "In today's NFL, offensive head coaches are ideal, but what Saleh lacks on that side of the ball, he more than makes up for with widely lauded leadership, technically sound instruction and an astute upbringing under offensive minds like Pete Carroll and Kyle Shanahan. At the very least, the Jets should be both more engaged and disciplined in 2021. In partnership with general manager Joe Douglas, Saleh has the personality and staffing assistance to restore the organization's reputation, if not play spoiler sooner rather than later. They may have growing pains, but it won't be for a lack of buy-in."
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano also weighed on the head-coaching vacancies and had high praise for Saleh.
Fowler: A-minus. "A four-year coordinator of a top-tier defense whose players rave about him works for me. I was leaning B-plus, but the job location pushes this up. New York needed new life, smartly eschewing the buddy system for a dynamic candidate with no ties to the front office."
Graziano: B-plus. "Tough to throw out an A for a guy who has never done the job before, but there's just nothing not to like about Saleh as a coaching prospect. He has had the right mentors and seems to have the right personality and demeanor. Many were expecting Douglas to look for someone with whom he had a prior connection, but he and Saleh don't have one. That tells me Douglas went with the guy he thought was best for the job."
The Jets agreed in principle to make Saleh the 20th head coach of the organization Jan. 14 and the announcement became official Tuesday. Saleh, who was previously the 49ers defensive coordinator (2017-20), led a top-10 defense in total yards (fifth), rush yards (seventh) and pass yards (fourth) in the 2020 season. The 49ers finished No. 2 overall in the league in total defense — with their 281.8 yards/game allowed the best by the team since 1997 — and first in pass defense — with the 169.2 pass yards/game allowed coming in as the best in the NFL since Rex Ryan and Jets defense allowed 153.7 pass yards/game in 2009 as the Niners were en route to SB LIV. After coaching up that defense, Saleh received The Sporting News' Coordinator of the Year award.
Saleh has coached in the NFL since 2005 and also has been with the Texans (2005-10), Seahawks (2011-13) and Jaguars (2014-16).