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NY Jets: Does Robert Saleh’s role change make sense?

Robert Saleh, Aaron Rodgers, NY Jets HC, Head Coach
Robert Saleh, Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh will concentrate more on the offense in 2024

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh has been tasked with concentrating on the offensive side of the ball this offseason. For Jets fans, that announcement has come with mixed reactions. Yet, while Saleh should be focusing on the offense, it seemed like little more than lip service to the media.

Speaking to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington in February, Jets owner Woody Johnson announced that Saleh would concentrate on helping the offense this offseason.

“He’s going to concentrate on offense,” Johnson said of Saleh. “He’s got [DC] Jeff [Ulbrich] to kind of do the defense, and we’ve got good special teams. It’s offense, offense, offense.”

And so far, it seems like those comments have held true as we head into OTAs.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers confirmed that the Jets head coach has taken his increased role change in stride.

“Robert, to his credit, has taken a deep role in the offense,” stated Rodgers. “He’s been kind of sitting over to the left of me a good amount of the offseason so far. We appreciate his influence. He’s brought some really good ideas to the table. He’s been joking that he kind of doesn’t know everything about the offense yet, definitely not the signals, but he’s added a lot of interesting stuff that you’ll see throughout the OTAs and training camp which I think will be pretty cool for us.”

But while the Jets owner has given Saleh a new assignment, does it really make sense for the team to do so?

Too little, too late?

To Saleh’s credit, he brought in an excellent defensive mind to the Jets in Jeff Ulbrich. Yet, while Ulbrich is competent enough to run the defense, Saleh’s input in the offense is likely negligible at best.

Saleh hasn’t coached on the offensive side of the ball since 2002, when he was an offensive assistant at Michigan State. And although he’s around offensive coaches, it does not mean he’s capable of helping on that side of the ball.

Sure, he can give input, but that doesn’t make it applicable to the offense. Going into his second year with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, it speaks volumes that Saleh isn’t familiar with the team’s signals. It also gives insight into Zach Wilson’s lack of development.

On one hand, Saleh doesn’t have the coaching success to be a one-dimensional coach. The Jets’ 18-33 record under him says as much. That has been seen in the lack of development of offensive players. On the other hand, he’s helped put together an elite defensive unit, one so impressive that it is hard to ignore.

In essence, Saleh’s critiques are similar to that of Brian Flores. Flores was highly criticized for his inability to develop Tua Tagovailoa (by picking the right coordinators) and his lack of input in the offense. We’ve already seen that same scenario play out with Saleh, Wilson, and Mike LaFleur. However, Saleh’s Jets lifeline was extended by the acquisition of Rodgers. And it’ll be Rodgers, not Saleh, who will determine how far this offense goes – regardless of Saleh’s role.

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