FLOREHAM PARK, NJ – New York Jets coach Robert Saleh loves to wear a black T-shirt with a 60% embroidered cut across the chest. No, it’s not the percentage of cotton in the shirt. It’s certainly not the team’s winning percentage over the past decade. (If so, the shirt would say 34%.)
No, the shirt is a nod to Navy SEALs and their secret to mental toughness – aka the 40% rule. Loosely translated: When you’re so tired that your brain tells you to stop, you’ve actually only reached 40% of your body’s potential.
Fascinated by the SEALs, Saleh was preaching the message all summer to players, coaches and just about everyone in the organization, which explains the 60% jerseys popping up all over the building. His job in his second year is to push Airplanes to a new limit, to make them find that 60% elusive.
“To do that, you have to go to a dark place,” he said.
Airplanes, of all teams, know the dark places.
They’ve had 11 consecutive years of playoffs, the longest active streak in the NFL and the longest-drawn streak in franchise history. Saleh, 43, wasn’t even born when the Jets played their only Super Bowl game in January 1969. He and general manager Joe Douglas, 46, have instilled optimism and hope into the organization, but the fan base is becoming restless and they want a side Together with its leadership to achieve results.
You don’t want to hear about the moral victories and carefully designed marketing campaigns that highlight the budding youth on the list. She wants to see tangible progress, meaning victories.
“I still think we’re going to win trophies here,” Saleh said, repeating what he said on the day he was hired and repeating through the toughest times of the 4-13 campaign.
Nobody expects the Jets to win a title this season, or even run into the playoffs in the loaded AFC, but they should be more competitive than last year. Eight of last season’s 13 losses were in double digits, including 41 and 28 points for the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, respectively.
They went 0-6 in the East Asian Zone for the second year in a row, the longest losing streak (12) by any East Asian team since the realignment in 2002. In the team’s first meeting in April, Saleh Zallajeh netted 12 games as part of the Its general theme: We must close the “gap” in 2022.
The honeymoon is over, guys.
“The goal is to play meaningful matches in the long run,” Douglas said, recapturing a relatively modest goal that hasn’t been met since 2015.
This is Douglas’ fourth year. He got into a dysfunctional slate with a slate of talent, and he’s done a commendable job – save for the unproductive 2020 draft – of revamping the roster with young talent. However, he doesn’t have much to show – he scored 13-36. This is a pivotal year for Douglas, who has signed a six-year contract.
Saleh is awarded a five-year contract, closely aligned with Douglas, the person he reports to. There appears to be a good deal of safety for the top footballers, but there is a layer of ambiguity around the organization because neither of the two men were hired by owner Woody Johnson, who returned last year from a diplomatic position abroad for Donald Trump’s White House.
Johnson, who attends most training and is heavily involved in the football process, wants to win now – or at least see real progress. How much patience does he have?
“I definitely feel like we’re a more talented team than we’ve ever been,” Douglas said, acknowledging that expectations are higher than at any time during his tenure.
The roster is more talented than last season, no doubt, and yet they don’t have players in the top 100 of ESPN’s NFL rankings. The Jets are all about kids — five first-round picks over the past two years, including the quarterback. Zach Wilson. Finally, they have 13 former first-round players in the league on their 53-player roster, including seven drafted by other teams.
Saleh likes to say that their roster is “created, not bought,” which he believes helps achieve long-term success, but in fact Jets have one of the highest salaries. Their active cash spending is $257 million, which only tracks the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints and Bills, according to OvertheCap.com. Those are the teams that came out of several winning seasons; Aircraft have not had a winning record since 2015.
When owners spend a lot of money, they want big bang for the buck.
For the Jets, a lot hinges on Wilson, who has nearly as many knee injuries (two) as his starting win (three). The physical talent is there, but he still has to show any consistency. The future of Saleh and Douglas is tied to Wilson, who picked him for second place in 2021. If he fails, they will fail.
Wisely, Douglas surrounded the quarterback with a cadre of promising skilled young players – wide receivers Elijah Mor And the Garrett Wilson And their running back Michael Carter And the Press Hall. Hall, whose Gates side took the second round in April, already has some in the organization who thinks he might be one of the most talented players on the roster.
But they are all in the range of 21-23 years. They can grow up together.
“It is exciting to see where we are heading,” said the reserve midfielder Joe FlaccoAt 37 years old, he is the oldest statesman on the team. “I still think we’re too young in some ways, and we haven’t won the last few years, so we’re still at the stage where we’re gaining confidence and proving that to ourselves. We’re not going to completely cross that hurdle until we go out and actually do it.”
Douglas built the defense to align with Saleh’s philosophy – a sporty front four that stretches to a depth of 10 and attacks in waves. They used their top draft pick (fourth overall) at the quarterback for the press man Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner, a slight surprise because of Saleh’s history of taking unknown angles and linking them to his district system. Gardner should influence third, when they usually ask for more man coverage than first and second touchdown.
Here’s a guarantee: the defense will be much better than last season.
Punch: It couldn’t get any worse, as the Jets finished in the last yards and allowed points (504 franchise record).
ESPN analyst Troy Aikman saw some bright spots last season, noting in the tape how the defense flew around the ball, reminding us of what Saleh did with the San Francisco 49ers when he was their defensive coordinator. The Hall of Fame quarterback said he mentioned it to his teammates, telling them, “This Jets defense, they’re going to be very good.”
Then he worked out the Jets’ shocking loss to the Indianapolis Colts Thursday night, when they let in a season-high 260 yards. Aikman said the planes “could have stayed home and been more competitive,” but he still sees potential for the unit. And the team.
“I think the planes have a chance to be really good,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a mirage or not, but I love what they do, I love Robert Saleh and I love Zach Wilson.”
Saleh was part of a successful rebuilding operation in San Francisco, but that didn’t come to fruition until the third year, with a trip to the Super Bowl. Several major players have thrived at the same time, and Saleh expects that to happen with aircraft. ought to. After all, the list includes eight of the 36 best picks, seven of them penned by Douglas. The exception is defensive processing Quinn Williamschosen by the previous regime.
“The great thing about this team is that I know we have them,” he said. “It’s going to be very interesting to watch this team grow up in terms of who these guys are, who are ahead in the fourth quarter.”
In other words, any men find that extra 60%.