Skip to main content

Jets' Robert Saleh: Lessons Learned from '23, Some Different Approaches in '24

Head Coach 'Excited' by Free Agency Class: 'Still a Lot of Things We Need to Accomplish, but Good So Far'

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks with reporters during an AFC coaches availability at the NFL owners meetings, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Robert Saleh breakfast buffet table was loaded up with a variety of dishes at the NFL annual meetings in Orlando. And at the top of the menu for Saleh, beginning his fourth season as the Jets head coach, is the current state of the team in free agency, which could be described as tasty.

"Joe does a really nice job," Saleh told reporters Monday morning of the efforts of general manager Joe Douglas and his staff at this time on the league calendar. "It's given us a lot of flexibility in regard to the draft. There's still a lot of work to do, a lot of things that we need to accomplish, but good so far."

The signings of unrestricted and street free agents have included the overhaul of the offensive line with the arrivals of tackle Tyron Smith, guard John Simpson and the return of tackle Morgan Moses, along with the addition of WR Mike Williams, backup QB Tyrod Taylor, defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw and Leki Fotu and CB Isaiah Oliver.

The loss of edge Bryce Huff to Philadelphia was a tough one but Saleh wished his "home grown" pass rusher success "in his next chapter." As for the chapter on whether or not the Jets can sign a mature edge man in Jadeveon Clowney, the coach said, "I'll leave that one for Joe."

Of the tasks that have shown progress, the offensive line was Job One of Many for the Jets and Saleh likes where the initial activity has positioned his offense around QB Aaron Rodgers.

"From a mental-makeup standpoint, we're really excited about the group," he said. "We know Morgan, he's a warrior. We'll get to know Tyron as we go, but when he's on the field, he's pretty darn good. And John Simpson, he's a war daddy, so we're excited to get him in the building also."

The line rebuild was necessary after the painful trials and tribulations that beset the line and the offense in 2023. Saleh of course would have preferred not to be tested that way, but he's optimistic about how the struggles have helped his returning offensive performers.

"Last year, because of all the injuries, a lot of guys got a lot of playing time that weren't expected to," he said. "So we feel really good about the guys who played a year ago as part of building our depth, and they still have room to grow into even better players. You're not just going to throw those guys away. They were a part of something last year and we'll continue to work with them and help them build.

"If you're a player, there's a lot of lessons in terms of how to deal with adversity and with those different things that happened. You guys know me. I'm always going to try to find the silver linings of things that happened. Obviously we didn't accomplish what we wanted to, but I do feel like we found out a lot about ourselves, about the guys that came in to fight every single day and tried to find a way to finish stronger. ... There's a lot of things we can take from last year, especially from my end, for sure."

Saleh obviously wasn't going to leave himself out of the equation after coaching his third straight sub-.500 Jets season and his second consecutive 7-10 campaign despite the high hopes that began just about a year ago.

"There's a lot of things that I could do differently. I'm not going to talk about them here," he said. "With regard to the different things we do schematically, we've got a lot of confidence in that. The messaging, practice habits, things we do in regard to our schedule, a lot of different things, we're going to do differently this year, though."

And Saleh said if he, his staff and his players need help focusing, they can get it from the talking points that Jets CEO Robert Wood Johnson has already supplied this year.

"Woody provides a lot of good insight, he really does," the coach said. "Regardless of what the tone may or may not be, the important thing is the message. He's provided a lot of really good, thoughtful messages that have helped us progress this offseason and will help us going into the season. He's the owner of the football team and his frustrations are shared by everybody."

But after all the introspection, self-scouting, arrivals and departures are done and the games begin, there is one overarching lesson that Saleh didn't need to learn but had reinforced for him as last year's some-up-too-much-down schedule unfolded:

"You've got win football games," he said. "That's it."

Related Content