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Robert Saleh’s first big challenge awaits

Happiness always comes to an end (no matter how long-lasting it lasts), whereas sadness comes and goes. New York Jets fans know this better than anybody else.

It’s time to say goodbye to the latest happy thing to happen in Jets’ land: the fans’ honeymoon with Robert Saleh.

It’s over; Bill Belichick made sure he put an end to it. The blowout wasn’t enough, as the Jets also lost quarterback Zach Wilson for the near future (2 to 4 weeks) along with many other players in another injury-filled season.

Things don’t get any easier this week. Saleh has six days to prepare for a home game against the hottest team in the conference, the 5-2 Bengals, who just defeated the Ravens and are ready to roll in every phase of the game.

Matching up against Cincinnati without the talented Wilson will be rough.

How will Saleh be able to push his players’ right buttons in such a dark moment? That’s the big question, and his response will tell Jets fans a lot about who he is as a head coach.

Catchy phrases and being well-liked in the locker room aren’t the most important prerequisites to becoming a good head coach. The NFL is much deeper than that, and, thus far, this is all Saleh has shown.

His words, though, have not consistently translated as well to the field.

Despite Saleh’s calling card being his ability to lead, the Jets looked flat and unprepared in Foxborough after a much-needed bye week.

The red flag has now been thrown: how can a master communicator and a well-liked coach have his team show up highly unprepared for a divisional matchup after an off-week?

Sure, Saleh is a rookie coach – and inexperience can lead to mistakes that will only happen once – but the magnitude of the Patriots’ blowout makes the red flag warranted.

It was ugly. Not because of the game score, but mostly because the Jets failed to put up a fight. The team was flat and looked highly unprepared to face a division rival. Adding the Wilson injury to this already dark context leads to an inevitable conclusion.

Robert Saleh’s first huge test as the Jets’ head coach will happen against the Bengals.

It’s time for Saleh to show everybody that the “All Gas No Brake” mentality resonates well within the locker room. New York has to come out firing and ready to give the Bengals a hard time at home.

Saleh’s mission isn’t to win the game. No way.

But Saleh needs to prove his calling card is real: He is a head coach who will get his team ready to play no matter what; he is a master communicator; he is a culture builder.

And the Jets’ head coach will only prove it to Jets fans by being competitive against the Bengals for 60 minutes. Fans can see when the team is giving everything on the field. That’s what the Jets need to show.

Next Sunday’s game will be all about effort.

Saleh and the Jets need to show the NFL that they will fight hard no matter the situation. Backup quarterback? No problem. The Jets will always give everything on the field.

After all, that’s who Robert Saleh is supposed to be: All Gas, No Brake. His players shouldn’t care who the quarterback is, or how many players are hurt. Just go hard every snap and play.

That’s why the Patriots game was such a disappointment. No one thought Saleh’s team would lack fight, yet it did. Firing on every cylinder against the Bengals would be a nice way to erase the Pats game from everyone’s mind.

Saleh’s first big test as the Jets’ head coach is here, and it will take place at 1 p.m. at Metlife Stadium on Halloween.

Can the man who installed the mentality of “All Gas, No Brake” motivate and get his team ready for a tough matchup despite the negative circumstances that currently surround One Jets Drive?

The response to this question will be telling.

During tough times, people usually show who they are.

I feel like Jets fans are about to know who the real Robert Saleh is.

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A former quarterback, Vitor Paiva wants to showcase a deep analysis of what's really happening on the field, showcasing what's really on the mind of a football player during a play, in his Sidearm Session. Email: vitorpaivagon@gmail.com

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