Speaking to SI’s Albert Breer, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh talks OTAs, Aaron Rodgers.
It’s one thing to hear about greatness. It’s another thing to witness it first-hand.
For the New York Jets, they’re finally seeing what Hall of Fame quarterback play looks like. We’ve heard many accounts of Jets players talking about the difference Aaron Rodgers is making on the team. Speaking to Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer, head coach Robert Saleh discussed what it’s been like with Rodgers on the Jets – and their expectations with him under center.
For Saleh, there have been plenty of “wow moments” from the 39-year-old signal caller already.
“The second one (wow moment), it’s because you see it in games, you just never see it that way,” said Saleh. “Me, personally, I’ve never been around a quarterback like that. We’ve had some good quarterbacks – Russell (Wilson), Jimmy (Garoppolo), Matt Schaub. This is different, and not to speak poorly on them. So he throws a ball to C.J. Uzomah. And I was like, ‘He’s covered!’ And he says, ‘Guy’s not looking at me, he’s open’.”
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For the Jets, these aren’t plays that are normally executed by the quarterback. Sure, Zach Wilson has made some incredible plays in his own right, but not with the consistency that’s been shown by Rodgers. That consistency has extended off the field, as well.
“He’s very thoughtful and deliberate in the way he goes about things,” said Saleh. “During OTAs, he’s gone out with the guys. And every weekend, he’s gone out with a different set of guys to get some time with everybody. So that’s the stuff in the locker room. When he is in the building, it’s very important for him to know everyone’s name, whether it’s the chef, the equipment guys, the trainers, people upstairs.”
While the narrative created by certain media members depicts Rodgers as abrupt, with a somewhat arrogant nature, his time with the Jets has been anything but that.
“It’s very important to him to understand the building in general.” Saleh continued, “I call it love language. Everybody has it. Relationships and connecting with people is very important to him. And that’s not something you’d have thought based on narratives. But it clearly is.”
That “love language” is creating more than just goodwill at One Jets Drive. It’s creating hope for a team that faces the longest playoff drought of the four major sports leagues in the United States.
“His presence creates hope,” said the Jets’ head coach. “And when you have something to fight for, it’s just human nature, you’re gonna lock in a little bit more. For sure, his presence, his words carry weight, he’s got a great demeanor to him, he’s been fantastic with his teammates, he’s been fantastic in the locker room. And the level of detail has gone up.”
Now, there are championship aspirations for a Jets team that knows they’re close to hoisting a Lombardi trophy. And with Rodgers under center, it’s more than just a feeling – it’s something that can be visualized.
“There’s a belief that this group can do something special,” Saleh continued. “But at the same time, I don’t think it’s really changed the mindset or the work ethic, because I think we’ve got a tremendous locker room, full of guys who are internally driven, who just want to be their personal best. But yeah, does it create a little excitement and buzz, for sure, because having a guy like him who’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, who can, I mean, he can sling the rock now, it’s unbelievable. Having him here brings a lot of hope, obviously.”