NY Jets, Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
These five NY Jets players will benefit the most from the Robert Saleh hire.
The Jets managed to hire arguably the hottest name on the coaching market and it has fans, media, and players alike excited for the future of the organization.
Saleh will reportedly be bringing with him former 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur, someone who’s widely considered to be one of the best up-and-coming offensive assistants in football, to be his offensive coordinator.
Essentially, the Jets will be trying to emulate the 49ers’ success. Not a bad strategy by any means.
This, of course, is good news for a franchise that has inhabited the depths of NFL misery for the better part of the past decade. And after enduring two years of Adam Gase, this is a change that was desperately needed.
But aside from helping out the organization as a whole, there are a handful of individual players currently on the roster who stand to benefit the most. Not only from Saleh’s hire, but from the addition of LaFleur.
Gase and the previous coaching staff miserably failed to maximize the talent on the Jets roster. The hope is that the new staff, headed by Saleh, will be able to do things that the previous regime could only dream of.
With that, let’s take a look at five players who will benefit from the Jets’ new coaching staff.
Next: 5. Ty Johnson
NY Jets, Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
5. Ty Johnson, RB, NY Jets
Saleh may be a defensive-minded head coach, but this hire means just as much for the offensive side of the ball as it does the defense. Primarily because of Mike LaFleur.
LaFleur is expected to implement a 49ers-like offense that heavily emphasizes getting players in space as much as possible. That could be amazing news for someone like Ty Johnson.
Johnson is exactly the type of player that would have excelled in a Kyle Shanahan scheme. A speedy, one-cut back who thrives in a zone-run system, Johnson could break out if given the opportunity in 2021.
LaFleur isn’t Mike McDaniel, so the theory that the Jets’ running game will look identical to San Francisco’s is far from certain. But you can’t help but get Raheem Mostert vibes from Johnson.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
Mostert went from a player hanging on to his NFL career by a thread to the lead back in the 49ers’ rushing attack. Johnson’s skill set is very reminiscent of Mostert and it’s exciting to think of what he could do with LaFleur calling the shots now.
Of course, this is also good news for the other Jets running backs — La’Mical Perine, Josh Adams, and whoever else the Jets add this season. But none of them is a more perfect fit for what LaFleur’s offense could look like than Johnson.
If given the opportunity, expect Johnson to be a trendy breakout candidate going into next season.
Next: 4. C.J. Mosley
NY Jets, Robert Saleh
4. C.J. Mosley, LB, NY Jets
C.J. Mosley has become the forgotten man of sorts on the Jets’ defense. Not that that’s a surprise seeing as he’s played around 60 minutes of football since signing a massive five-year, $85 million contract back in 2019.
But provided he stays healthy, few players will make more of an impact than the four-time Pro Bowler in 2021.
It’s easy to forget, but Mosley was once considered one of the best linebackers in football. There’s a reason he earned that massive, market-setting contract back two years ago.
And under Saleh, we might just see the Mosley of old return.
Saleh was instrumental in developing a player who resembles Mosley in many ways, linebacker Fred Warner. Warner is one of the NFL’s best linebackers and his blend of athleticism, leadership, and physicality makes him very comparable to Mosley.
Saleh also helped develop fifth-round pick Dre Greenlaw into a true defensive building block for San Francisco. His background as a linebackers coach only further solidifies the notion that he works wonders with players like Mosley.
If Mosley can stay healthy in 2021 — which there’s no reason to believe he won’t — the Jets could finally see the player who made the Pro Bowl in four of his first five NFL seasons actually make an impact on gamedays.
And with Saleh leading the charge, we might just see the best version of C.J. Mosley yet.
Next: 3. Sam Darnold
NY Jets, Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
3. Sam Darnold, QB, NY Jets
This one comes with a major caveat. There’s no guarantee that the Jets stick with Sam Darnold this offseason and it’s impossible to predict whether they will at this point.
But if they do, the Saleh hire is a best-case scenario for Darnold.
The former USC star heavily regressed under Gase’s guidance with his system and supporting cast actively working against his development. And while his supporting cast still needs work, it’s hard to identify a better system for Darnold to develop in.
Darnold thrives outside the pocket and on play-action, two staples of the 49ers’ offense. LaFleur helped mask Jimmy Garoppolo’s and led the 49ers to a top-eight passing attack in 2019. That was with Garoppolo at quarterback and a collection of middling receivers.
Even with Garoppolo only playing six games in 2020, LaFleur helped get competent play out of the likes of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. There’s no reason he can’t do the same, if not more, with Darnold.
Especially since Darnold’s strengths would be accentuated more in a Shanahan offense than Garoppolo, Mullens, or Beathard.
After being forced to deal with Gase’s malpractice over the last two seasons, Darnold might finally be given the chance to learn and grow in an offensive system tailored to him.
If the Jets keep Darnold, he’ll have a better shot of turning things around now than he did before this hire.
Next: 2. Bryce Hall
NY Jets, Robert Saleh Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
2. Bryce Hall, CB, NY Jets
Saleh’s defense in San Francisco resembled the glory days of the Legion of Boom in Seattle. That is to say a lot of Cover 3 and a lot of zone coverage. Perfect for a player like Bryce Hall.
Hall was drafted by the Jets in the fifth round of last year’s draft and showed promise in his rookie year that he can be a future starter down the line. And under Saleh, he can reach his true potential.
Considered a Day 2 lock before a devastating ankle injury wiped out half his senior season, Hall fell right into the Jets’ laps in the fifth round. But make no mistake about it, the Jets don’t view him as a typical Day 3 prospect.
Hall will likely be given every opportunity to earn a starting job in 2021. And with Saleh leading the way, his future looks bright.
The Virginia product excels in off-zone coverage where he can keep routes in front of him. Due to his lackluster athleticism, Hall has never been one to bump-and-run with receivers at the line of scrimmage, relying instead on his instincts in zone coverage.
Hall is a perfect fit for Saleh’s system in every sense of the term. His length, instincts, and awareness combined with above-average ball skills make him an ideal Cover 3 cornerback.
I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Richard Sherman, but the two players do happen to share a lot of the same strengths.
Bryce Hall in Robert Saleh’s defense could be a match made in heaven for the Jets.
Next: 1. Quinnen Williams
1. Quinnen Williams, DT, NY Jets
Quinnen Williams took the sophomore leap that everyone hoped he would in 2020 breaking out as one of the best all-around interior defensive linemen in the NFL. And he could be set to take an even bigger leap under Saleh in 2021.
Williams was always seen as someone who needed a little more polish at the NFL level. A one-year starter at Alabama, few players were more dominant in college football than Williams, but he needed to learn to win with more than just his athleticism.
This past season, he showed he could do that, all the while playing in a system that didn’t exactly maximize his strengths.
Williams is best fit as a 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 where he can use his athleticism and pass-rush traits to be a dominant force in opposing teams’ backfields. That’s the role he’ll likely fill under Saleh.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets: 3 non-quarterback trade targets on offense
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
- NY Jets: Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Joe Thuney
- NY Jets officially place the franchise tag on safety Marcus Maye
DeForest Buckner became arguably the NFL’s second-best interior defensive lineman (behind Aaron Donald, of course) under Saleh because the firey coordinator deployed him in a very similar way to how he’ll likely deploy Williams.
Truth be told, Saleh will likely use Williams all over the defensive line. Much like Shanahan emphasizes “positionless football” on offense, Saleh did the same on defense. Look no further than his usage of Arik Armstead for proof of that.
Williams could be primed for a massive year in 2021 where he fully establishes himself as one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL.
That isn’t hyperbole either, that’s the Robert Saleh effect.