The nostalgia of Seattle has worn off, but Saleh is still grateful to his former head coach
The Seattle Seahawks, as the Jets’ Week 17 opponent, already have several ties to Gang Green.
The most obvious is the Geno Smith revenge game. The former Jets second-round pick was selected to the Pro Bowl after putting together one of the finest breakout seasons ever seen from a previously-deemed draft bust. Smith will be looking to propel his team to the playoffs against the franchise that allowed a punch to the face to end his tenure as a starter.
Sauce Gardner vs. Tariq Woolen is another narrative. The two rookie corners have been the two main competitors in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation for most of the season. Then narrative of the first-round pick vs. the fifth and lockdown coverage vs. interceptions is a talking point for this game.
However, it’s interesting to remember that Robert Saleh started out as a quality control coach for Seattle. Although a QC coach is pretty much code for “bottom of the coaching totem pole – the intern who makes the coffee,” Saleh still garnered some lessons that he’s carried with him to this day—namely, his demeanor as a head coach.
Saleh was asked how much of his coaching style came from watching Pete Carroll during his days with Seattle. He explained that in the book Win Forever, Carroll talks about coaching at USC with Rocky Seto, who used to scream at his players because that was what a coach was supposed to be. Carroll sat Seto down and told him that he could be himself and didn’t need to yell.
Saleh continued, “And so being with Pete, him along with Gus Bradley… challenging us to figure out who we were as individuals and be confident in your skin, it’s one of the greatest learning lessons I got. … Everything could be great when we’re winning, but as soon as adversity comes my true character is going to reveal itself, and if I’m not truly connected to that person that hits the adversity, then there’s going to be a disconnect that breaks trust. To be in the building and to have the confidence that I could be myself and still be a good football coach, I don’t have to project as something else, it was a tremendous tool that he gave us all.”
This certainly fits with Saleh’s reputation as a players’ coach who will not hang his guys out to dry. This can be frustrating to some, but his leadership style has undoubtedly helped thread the needle with some tricky personality clashes and situations this season.
Saleh hopes he can win this bout with his former head coach and set the Jets up for a possible win-and-you’re-in situation against the Dolphins in Week 18.