Saleh – Jets narrative will change ‘when we win football games’
Saleh – Jets narrative will change ‘when we win football games’

ORLANDO, Fla. – A year ago, the New York Jets were the toast of the NFL after trading for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They went from “Hard Hits” to hard times quickly, and now the current regime faces a potential make-or-break season.

Coach Robert Saleh wouldn’t define it in those terms, but he expressed a sense of urgency Monday morning at the NFL owners meetings. He said they need to turn the proverbial offseason hype into regular season success.

“When you lose, you’re a loser,” Saleh said. “I’m nasty [GM Joe Douglas] gross, we’re all gross. It goes with the territory, but the best we can do is keep our heads down and … get to work. All the nice things about the off-season don’t matter. We have to win football games and when we win football games, all the narratives will change.”

The Jets haven’t won in a long time — eight straight losing seasons to be exact. They are 18-33 in three seasons under Saleh, who, along with Douglas, was put on alert last month by Woody Johnson. The 76-year-old owner, admittedly angered by last season’s 7-10 finish, came close to issuing a playoff mandate or relegation.

They were considered Super Bowl contenders last year, but everything unraveled when Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tear on the fourth snap of the season. Saleh knows he’s out of mulligans, but downplays the hot seat.

“I don’t add [pressure]” he said, declining to say the season would be a failure if they miss the postseason. “The pressure is already maxed out from Year 1 to wherever. There’s always pressure to win. Obviously we’re all disappointed with the way things went a year ago, but I don’t think anyone’s confidence has been shaken.”

The Jets made a splash by signing big-name players like wide receiver Mike Williams and left tackle Tyron Smith, but that doesn’t compare to last year, when they dominated NFL headlines with the pursuit and eventual acquisition of Rodgers, a four-time MVP. They were featured on the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” enjoying the attention after initially protesting.

“There was nothing to hide from it,” Saleh said. “You’re trading for a guy like Aaron Rodgers, I feel like it would sound stupid if any of us tried to hide from him. But the reality is that offseason wins don’t matter. We’ve got to win football games, and no matter how much excitement there is around the organization, no matter how much excitement there is around free agency or the draft, none of that matters.”

The good news is that Rodgers, 40, will be ready to participate in OTA practices in May, according to Saleh. The Jets have revamped their offensive line, which was ravaged by injuries and ineffectiveness last season. Williams, less than five months removed from ACL surgery, has “a long way to go” in his rehab, Saleh said, but the hope is to be ready by Week 1.

The biggest disappointment of the offseason was watching the firing of team leader Bryce Huff go to the Philadelphia Eagles. The defensive-minded Saleh seemed stung by the free-agent loss, saying, “People want to say all he does is rush the passer, but all Mariano Rivera did was close out the ninth inning.” Jets show interest in Jadeveon Clowney as a possible replacement.

It wouldn’t be an offseason without Rodgers news, and there was a firestorm when presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. revealed recently that he was considering the quarterback as a running mate. Saleh sidestepped those questions. Apparently, he never seriously considered dropping Rodgers in the campaign.

“I think it was viewed a little bit differently in the political world than it was at least in our world,” Saleh said. He said he hasn’t spoken to Rogers about it. There was no need, he said.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *