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Bombshell report reveals startling details of NY Jets’ dysfunction

Robert Saleh
Robert Saleh

Excuses permeated the New York Jets’ 2023 coaching staff

We thought we knew how bad things were for the 2023 New York Jets.

Turns out they were even worse than we imagined.

A new report by Zack Rosenblatt and Dianna Russini of The Athletic provides an inside scoop on what was going on with the Jets’ coaching staff and Aaron Rodgers. Rosenblatt and Russini spoke to 30 sources in and around the Jets’ organization. The report is nothing short of ugly.

One line at the beginning sums it all up well: “Those sources described a team riddled with excuse-making, a paranoid head coach, an ill-equipped offensive coordinator and an organizational tunnel vision on the quarterback that rubbed some teammates wrong.”

In the words of one Jets coach, “It’s just such a [bleeping] mess. Something has to change.”

Here’s a recap of the key points mentioned in the report.

Rodgers

After Hard Knocks featured the Jets during training camp, the widespread perception was that Rodgers was the alpha in the locker room rather than Robert Saleh. One AFC general manager took it a step further.

“Rodgers isn’t the assistant GM. Joe Douglas is the assistant GM.”

This was very evident from the moves the Jets made during the offseason. They signed Allen Lazard to a four-year, $44 million deal despite his poor route-running and porous hands that were abundantly apparent on film. They brought in Dalvin Cook, Billy Turner, Randall Cobb, and Tim Boyle at Rodgers’ behest. Most importantly, they added Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator to woo Rodgers to New York.

Hackett

Perhaps the most catastrophic parts of the article refer to Hackett. He repeatedly stated, “That’s what Aaron wants” and allowed plays to be entirely reset for Rodgers.

Hard Knocks showcased what Jets reporters had long seen in practice: the offensive line was a sieve. One Jets coach commented on the lack of urgency Hackett showed. Per the article, the coach said “he’d never seen a team watch less practice tape in training camp than the Jets did with Hackett.” Other coaches and players said that Hackett “lacked attention to detail.” Furthermore, Hackett did not meet with much of his offensive staff until last-minute game prep.

In Week 2, Micah Parsons dominated Duane Brown to the tune of two sacks and four quarterback hits. Offensive line coach Keith Carter asked Hackett to give Brown blocking help, but to no avail.

When the Jets started playing younger players, including Jeremy Ruckert, Xavier Gipson, and Carter Warren, Hackett tried to return to the plays he had planned to run with Rodgers at the helm. Things got worse. Presnap penalties were abundant, as the Jets led the league in both that area and total penalties.

After the Jets’ 30-0 loss to Miami in Week 15, Lazard stated they were “out-efforted” and “outschemed.” Considering that Lazard was the worst qualified receiver in the NFL by many metrics (including yards per route run and drops), several defensive leaders were angry about those comments.

Ultimately, Hackett will be back in 2024, although the report adds that Saleh has looked into adding to the offensive staff and spreading around the play-calling. Still, the Jets are banking on Rodgers’ return to fix systemic offensive issues.

Saleh

The report does not spare Saleh from criticism. The Jets coach presents a positive face to the media with his “All gas, no brake” mantra. Internally, though, the report indicates that Saleh was frustrated by negative press coverage, especially compared to the Giants.

Saleh also seemed to take a “woe is me” attitude when Rodgers went down. He did research and found that many successful coaches, including Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Mike McDaniel, and Kyle Shanahan, all had losing records when they lost their top quarterback. This seemed to be his excuse in a bid for job security, especially since Woody Johnson would reference the negative press coverage in meetings. Saleh also privately blamed Zach Wilson, the offensive line, and the receivers for the Jets’ offensive issues.

Through the adversity of the entire season, Saleh’s talking point was, per the report, “What do you expect? We lost Aaron Rodgers.” Many within the organization were unimpressed with how Saleh fawned over Rodgers.

Wilson

When the Jets benched Wilson for Boyle during their Week 12 loss to Miami, Wilson knew his time with the Jets had come to an end. Saleh told Wilson that he would be benched for the rest of the year and traded after the season.

However, Saleh then changed his mind and told Wilson to start preparing for gameplay once more. After the loss to Atlanta, Wilson said he did not want to return to the lineup because of what Saleh told him and the chances of getting injured behind the Jets’ poor blocking. Saleh sent Rodgers to talk to Wilson but nothing changed. Their relationship had soured after Wilson lost contact with Rodgers following the latter’s surgery. Wilson decided to play again only after The Athletic leaked his reluctance to start once more.

When that leak happened, Saleh was furious. He threatened to take cell phones from his staff to find out who the leaker was while claiming they would not be in trouble if they came forward.

Disaster

This bombshell report sheds light on a dysfunctional organization filled with poor coaching and preparedness, finger-pointing, and excuse-making. There were hints from things Saleh and Hackett said to the media, but the full scope is nearly unfathomable.

Johnson has already given full backing to Saleh and Douglas for 2024. The Jets just fired assistant general manager Rex Hogan, the fall person for a systemic issue. Perhaps replacing Hogan will help with some of the Jets’ personnel decisions, but it will not fix the culture of ducking responsibility that permeates the organization. One noticeable aspect of the report is that it contains little criticism of the front office, perhaps indicating the source of the leaks.

As for Hackett, the Jets seem to be praying that Rodgers will be enough to fix those issues. That’s a risky proposition for a quarterback entering his age-41 season and coming off a torn Achilles. Though Saleh is aware of the issue, he (or Johnson or Rodgers) seems unwilling to take a stand and solve it.

This paints a bleak picture of the Jets’ prospects in 2024. Perhaps Rodgers can right the ship, as Garrett Wilson asserted. Or maybe next year will simply be 2023 2.0, even with Rodgers at the helm.

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DFargas
DFargas
4 months ago

Just because Lazard had no standing to criticize anyone besides himself doesn’t mean he was wrong about the Jets’ performance in their 30-0 loss to Miami. I think far more than any article quoting unnamed sources and hearsay, that loss spoke volumes and told you all you need to know about the 2023 Jets, especially the coaching staff. The team may have some talented players, but the management and leadership is rock-bottom.

Charlie Winner
Charlie Winner
4 months ago

People are under the impression that Woody and Chris run Johnson & Johnson and thus have managerial skills that lend to running a major corporation. They don’t now, nor have they ever, run that corporation…… thank God for the stockholders’ IRAs.

Woody, and to a lesser degree Christopher, really have little grasp of how to run a football team because, like J&J, they have no knowledge of the basics of running the enterprise.

We are going to be trapped in a cycle of first time Head Coaches and GMs and individual stars with too much power because the owners are fan boys looking to make temporary splashes on the back pages.

The needs on the field are obvious, O-Line, #2 receiver, and an experienced back-up QB. So are the needs on the side lines, an entirely new, experienced, offensive staff.

Will the ownership own up to their failures, or will we simply recycle the excuses for another 13 years?

Jets71
Jets71
4 months ago

and there we have it…Hogan and the Jets parted ways two weeks ago according to Rich Cimini.

Jets71
Jets71
4 months ago

Eh, I’m not putting too much stock in a report that quotes 30 sources and none by name. I think you are onto something: they believe Hogan was the “leak” which if he was he had to go.

They also reported Saleh is seeking some sort of offensive “support” of some kind which is positive, the challenge will be getting someone worth it to take a job like that…the team voted Rogers most inspirational which indicates one of the “sources” missed the mark.

I personally think the Saleh portion was specifically overdone, if you are correct in saying the “leak” came from the front office then it stands to reason there will be “overkill” piling on the coaches.

In actuality there is little in the report we didn’t already know as it pertains to the offensive challenges facing the team and coaching staff, and the players publicly have supported Saleh.

I don’t think the Jets think Rogers alone will fix this problem, they have said as much, that’s a media narrative everybody wants to use because it’s clear he alone can’t make it all good.

As for personnel decisions improving without Hogan, the talent on this team is far better now than it was when Joe got here…by far, so as much as we can point to mistakes the overall talent level of the team has improved.

mlesko73
mlesko73
4 months ago
Reply to  Jets71

Jets71 I agree, there isn’t much that is new here; it’s more of a condensed “Reader’s Digest” version of the back page for the entire season. Russini has had an axe to grind w Rodgers going back to him telling her and Schefter to “lose my number” and later when he contradicted her story of him having a “wish list” for the Jets. The media continues to flog Rodgers for being a “drama queen” but can’t help themselves from going to his well over and over.
With that said, there are clearly problems with Saleh’s leadership/vision. I fear that the demands of being an HC have squeezed out all that was good about RS when he was SF’s defensive coor. He looks disengaged and out of touch during games. Even for a defensive-minded HC it is a mistake to have absolutely zero input on the other side of the ball.
I sincerely hope this season serves as a learning tool, the young talent on this team deserves more.

Jets71
Jets71
4 months ago
Reply to  mlesko73

Thanks for adding that I was trying to figure who Russini had the beef with and now it makes sense. I hear you on Saleh, I was and remain all in on him. Overall, the players have said he’s a leader and at the end of the day that’s what matters most. What you say about his “disengagement” on the sidelines is something I’ve noticed but I look at it a bit differently, to me he’s trying to provide calm in a time of chaos. My feeling is he’s got to revert more to the energetic guy that got him this job. It also stems from the stigma media has about defensive head coaches…that is if they call defensive plays they are not “CEO” enough for the job, but when offensive head coaches call plays they are “genius.” I’m not suggesting he should call plays, but I am suggesting he get his hands a bit more “dirty” in some of the game day operation.

I like Saleh, and think he’ll grow. We have our problems with the team, coaching, GM, etc, but reality is they are better than when he got here. They won 7 games last year with disaster at OL and QB. They beat 3 playoff teams last season, and took KC to the wire. People can say what they want but the Jets are not wrong in saying they are close…even with the “dysfunction.” The bottom line is adding 2 OL, 1 WR and 1 DT to what they have could be enough. That’s “doable” in one off season.

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