When the Jets announced earlier this month that Robert Saleh would become the team's next head coach, players and representatives around the league showered him with support and congratulations. And as Saleh continues to transition into his new role, NFL Network analysts shared insight on how they expect the first-time head coach to build a new culture.
"People talk about his intelligence, he's so bright," said NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah. "That's something that stands out. People also talk about his ability to relate to players, which has never been as important than it is now. If you look at on-the-record comments from players, especially CB Richard Sherman, they believe in him and have faith in him. Players have lobbied for him to get a head coaching job, and I think that says a lot about being a coach, but also in the way he's able to relate to and develop those relationships."
Formerly the defensive coordinator for the 49ers, Saleh led his unit to a top-10 defense in total yards (fifth), rush yards (seventh) and pass yards (fourth) this past season. In 2019, his defense performed at an even higher level, finishing second overall in the NFL in total defense and first overall in pass defense, and topped the year by making it to Super Bowl LIV. Saleh has had much similar success throughout his 20-year career, including with the Jaguars, Seahawks and the Texans. His approach with his players has proven to be effective.
"It's going to be a 'play hard for me and I'm going to coach hard for you,' " said NFL Network's Steve Wyche on why Saleh's approach to culture translates well with players. "They're going to compete and they're going to be disciplined. You look at this past year, half of the 49ers' defense was on injured reserve for the majority of the season, and they were still in the top eight in almost every important category because guys knew what they were supposed to do. They understood the expectations, and they remained disciplined. Robert Saleh got them in position to succeed. Everyone on this roster will understand their purpose individually and as a teammate."
Saleh has hired the majority of his staff for the upcoming season and will soon turn his focus to the team's offseason. NFL Network's Peter Schrager — whom knows Saleh personally — is confident in his ability to turn the Green and White's luck around.
"Robert Saleh's pitch throughout the entire interview process was, 'I can be in every room — I can go talk to special teams, linebackers, quarterbacks, and more,' " Schrager said. "He's going to hire offensive staff that can do wonders. He's going to have a feel for the entire building. This is a CEO. This is someone who is going to touch every level of the organization and most importantly, every level of the team. I think Jets players are going to be ecstatic, but I also think fans are going to see immediate rewards too. I think it's going to be a team you want to root for and a coach you want to support."