During Robert Saleh's introductory press conference last week, the Jets' new head coach gave a sneak peak into the thoughts that ran through his mind during his interview process.
"When I walked out of the building, I was like, there’s no doubt this is home," Saleh said. "There was no doubt in my mind, it just felt like home."
Days before departing from New York's facility following his in-person interview, Saleh met the Jets' brass for the first time on a Zoom call. At that point, he didn't expect to feel the way he did a few days later.
“A lot of the interviews, you go through it, and you’re like, 'Huh, that’s exactly what people told me it was gonna be,'” Saleh told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. “When I walked into the Jets [interview], the Zoom call, it was like, 'Oh, that wasn’t that bad.' I was expecting something different. I was expecting something disorganized. Instead, what I got was a very organized interview, a very collaborative interview. It felt like it was done really, really well by them."
Saleh articulated to Breer that his research leading up to his interview with the Jets led him to believe the meeting would go another way. Instead, it went so well that Saleh actively chose the Jets when their offer was officially on the table. He was ready to accept an offer from New York while he was still interviewing with other teams.
That's a testament to the work New York put in to prepare for their head coaching search. Saleh was ultimately interviewed by six of the seven organizations seeking to hire a new head coach this offseason, but it was the Jets—shattering Saleh's preconceived notions about the franchise—that blew him away.
“We get one shot at this,” Saleh said to Breer. “You get one shot to make an impact, and you want to do it not where you have full say or anything, but you want to do it where you know you can work with the people that are in it. This is still a people business, and it is people that make things special. Having the ability to match with somebody who genuinely wants to do this together, and it’s not, 'Here’s the players I picked, go coach them,' that was a very, very big focal point for me as I went through this process."
That in mind, it's no surprise that Saleh defended the Jets when asked about the franchise's reputation for dysfunction during his intro presser. He called that criticism "unfair."
"It’s like I said earlier, there’s a clear vision on what Christopher Johnson wants, there’s a clear vision on what Joe Douglas wants, there’s a clear vision on what Hymie [Elhai] wants and together that vision is very unified and the communication that they were able to express throughout this entire interview process, it’s clear, there’s no gray area, it’s all black and white on exactly what they’re looking for," Saleh explained. "And going through the interview cycle, just listening to people talk, they are authentic as anyone and again, I’m really excited to be a part of this thing because it is, you get perception and sometimes people think perception is reality but it’s furthest from the truth and especially when you actually sit down and speak with each individual."