NY Jets‘ head coach Robert Saleh and the rest of the team’s new coaching staff were thrown right into the proverbial fire this offseason. Not that they should have expected anything different, however.
Saleh joined the Jets in January and instantly inherited a team with a quarterback controversy. The incumbent Sam Darnold was the subject of numerous trade rumors and with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, many believed the Jets would target his replacement.
After months of back and forth, discussions with other teams, pro day visits, and prospect evaluation, the Jets finally pulled the trigger earlier this month sending Darnold to the Carolina Panthers.
For Darnold, it’s a chance at redemption after a lackluster three seasons in New York. And for the Jets, it’s a chance to start over and usher in a new era led by a new man under center.
But even more so than that, the Jets still benefitted from this entire Darnold ordeal. No, of course this isn’t to say that this was an ideal scenario — far from it.
The Jets drafted Darnold third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Just three years later, he’s gone and they’re starting over from scratch. There’s no way to spin that as a positive.
Rather it’s the entire Darnold process that Saleh and the coaches were just forced into that could be seen as beneficial. Don’t believe me? Take it from Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas who said so himself.
The Sam Darnold process was beneficial for the NY Jets
Douglas spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer last week and revealed quite a bit of inside information about the trade process with Darnold and how that entire situation unfolded.
The GM also insisted that the entire process of trading Darnold and evaluating both him and the top quarterbacks in this year’s class revealed a lot about what Saleh and the coaches value in players.
“You get into these meetings, and there’s such a clear-cut plan. There’s such great teaching methods that they have in place. And just going through these conversations, it’s reinforced the excitement that you had when we made the hire. These are great guys, man. They have the vision and they have a plan and it makes your job easier from a personnel perspective when there is that clear vision in what they’re looking for — like, O.K., this is easy, we can find guys that are made of the right stuff. It’s been cool. It’s been really cool.”
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Jets have a plan. And their front office and coaching staff are both on board with it.
Douglas — along with assistant general manager Rex Hogan, director of player personnel Chad Alexander, and senior football advisor Phil Savage (the three top assistants under Douglas) — and Saleh are walking in lockstep with one another.
Saleh knows the types of players that he’s looking for — both from a schematic and personality/culture standpoint. That makes Douglas’ job a lot easier.
There is an open line of communication between Douglas and Saleh that hasn’t existed under the previous regimes. Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles never saw eye to eye. Douglas and Adam Gase never seemed to be on the same page.
But with Douglas and Saleh, the Jets have finally managed to correct that. The Sam Darnold process and everything that the organization has tackled over the last few months has solidified that notion.
The Jets are ushering in a new era in many ways this offseason. And with the organization finally collaborating in an efficient manner, that new era could prove to be more fruitful than its predecessors.