Ryan Leaf: NY Jets HC Robert Saleh 'coaching for his job this year'

NY Jets, Robert Saleh
NY Jets, Robert Saleh / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

You aren't going to find many more infamous NY Jets haters out there than Ryan Leaf. The former No. 2 overall pick has famously criticized the organization numerous times in recent years, and his tour of criticism continued last week.

Leaf spoke about the Jets and, more specifically head coach Robert Saleh, on a recent episode of the Straight Line podcast last week, and he shared an ominous opinion about the third-year head coach.

Leaf remarked that Saleh was "coaching for his job this year" and suggested that he might be fired if the Jets fail to make the playoffs. The NFL-QB-turned-analyst insisted that Saleh "has everything now" and that the excuses are few and far between.

Now, Leaf has been a vocal critic of the Jets in the past, so it's fair to take what he says about the team with a grain of salt. That said, he does have a point here.

"For as good as it feels like you’ve built things back with Joe Douglas, there is something we haven’t necessarily talked about to Robert Saleh. You may be coaching for your job this year because you have everything now – like everything. No playoff appearances yet in your tenure."

Ryan Leaf

NY Jets HC Robert Saleh is quite possibly coaching for his job this year

The Jets hired Saleh ahead of the 2021 season following the disastrous Adam Gase era in New York. In two seasons with the team so far, Saleh has a record of just 11-23, although it's hard to argue it's all been his fault.

Saleh has helped transform the Jets' defense into one of the best units in the NFL. The year before Saleh's arrival, the Jets ranked 26th and 24th in points and yards allowed, respectively. Two years later, they were a top-four defense in both categories.

That dominant defense hasn't resulted in playoff success just yet, largely due to the team's inability to produce stable quarterback play. The Jets are hoping that changes this year with the addition of Aaron Rodgers.

That's why Leaf absolutely has a point. Saleh has his defensive core. He has his offensive playmakers. Now, he has his quarterback too.

As much as this roster is a product of the work Joe Douglas has done, Saleh has absolutely had a say as well. Just one look at this defense offers a glimpse into Saleh's roster-building strategy and defensive philosophies. The same is true for the offensive side of the ball.

Robert Saleh is entering his third season as the Jets head coach with a top-five defense (on paper), a solid skill position group, a hopefully improved offensive line, and, most importantly, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

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There will be consequences if the Jets underachieve in 2023, and Saleh could be the one who shoulders the blame.