BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Second-year Jets head coach Robert Saleh may not be a great head coach, but he is also not stupid. He understands what’s going on. After an embarrassing 24-9 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener on Sunday, he knew fans were not happy about his coaching job and his team’s performance and the media would get on him and his team.
It couldn’t be surprising he was being defensive during a Zoom conference call with the media on Monday. He mentioned he would hold his critics accountable by keeping receipts about people mocking him and his team when the team turn it around. He also admitted on ESPN Radio New York’s Michael Kay show that revitalizing the Jets back to prominence is challenging by saying he and Jets general manager Joe Douglas inherited an expansion team when they both got to the Jets and that he wants to shove it down everyone’s throat once the Jets start winning.
This sounds like a head coach that knows pressure’s on him to get this Jets team on track fast.
We can go say now Saleh is now being Jeted. As in imploding under pressure.
For Saleh to address his critics while mentioning what went wrong in the game, he sounds like a head coach that is insecure. Plain and simple. This wasn’t leadership. It’s surprising Saleh would go that route after exuding confidence and belief since he got here. This is uncharacteristic of him.
Like Jets fans and the Jets, he didn’t expect his team to look this bad and unprepared to start the season. The offense produced nothing, and the defense fell apart in the second half. The score reflected everything that was bad about this team on this particular Sunday.
Everyone should be disappointed. For this team to look this bad, it’s alarming. This is not a sign of progress at all. Sure it’s one game, but it looks like the Jets got so much work to do before they can get a win. The schedule does not get any easier. The Jets have a shot to beat the Deshaun Watson-less Browns on the road, but after that, they will face the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
There’s a good chance the Jets may not win a game before the bye week. After the bye week, they will face the Patriots at Foxborough on Nov. 20, so a win may be hard to come by.
After the Jets did so much talking about how things are going to be different because of the dynamic talent on the roster, the season opener loss provided a sobering reality that it’s the Same Old Jets. Now, a coach is on the attack. What a difference this timeline makes.
For Saleh to be this defensive, it’s alarming. This isn’t leadership. A mark of a good coach is to be accountable in answering the tough questions and doing something about it. He shouldn’t waste his time worrying about what the fans and the media have to say about his coaching performance. He needs to get it together as a head coach here.
The second-year head coach is not in a position to go on the attack here when he is 4-14 as the Jets head coach. So far, he has shown he is no better than his predecessors Adam Gase and Todd Bowles. There has not been a noticeable improvement under Saleh’s leadership.
Had the Jets put on a competent performance in the loss, no one would say a word. In fact, the fans would have felt good about this team heading to Cleveland. Now, fans are already thinking this is a lost season. It’s not like they were excited about the season in the first place. They knew the Jets were going to be awful. What the fans wanted was hope, and right now, this team is far away from that. This is what’s bothering the fanbase.
No one can blame the Jets fans for being frustrated. It’s been 11 seasons of bad football (63-115 overall) after a disappointing 2010 AFC Championship Game appearance. Since 2017, Gang Green have gone 22-60, the worst record in the NFL. The team hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1969. It was the team’s lone Super Bowl appearance. It is the fourth straight season the Jets started off the season with a loss. Sunday was the team’s 13th straight loss in September.
This franchise provided more embarrassment than glory. Yet this fanbase has been loyal throughout all this. This is where Saleh doesn’t get it, and this is why he is wrong to go after the fans when he said he would keep receipts for anyone mocking the team.
Yes, the past sins of the franchise should not be Saleh’s problem, but his job is to clean all that up by winning. So far, not only haven’t they won, but they haven’t been competitive, either. It was an insult to the fans when he said he was proud of the team’s fight in the loss against the Ravens. The game was over at halftime because the offense was so inept that it was hard to believe the Jets were going to win this game.
Saleh is not in a position to lecture the fans. This is the worst thing a head coach can do, especially in New York. Going after the fans is not a winning proposition. Even failed New York football head coaches Ben McAdoo, Todd Bowles, Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge never did this. It’s clear he knows nothing about the New York sports fan to even do this.
No one is calling for his firing yet. But more losses like Sunday, and he will hear Fire Saleh chants at home games. This should be a warning for him to get himself together and start coaching better. Criticism of his coaching is deserving based on the losses and performance.
Saleh made the situation much worse on Monday by being defensive. He should really know better.
He exposed himself as a head coach who may not be capable of leading a team out of the wilderness.
This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6
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