Hiring Robert Saleh was a long-term investment for the New York Jets. Change the culture, point the franchise toward respectability and establish a tradition of winning over the next several years.
New York hasn't snapped the football with Saleh on the sideline yet, but the head coach's presence within the organization is already paying huge dividends.
Addressing the media for the first time since signing his three-year deal earlier this week, defensive end Carl Lawson was asked why he picked the Jets in free agency.
Lawson joked that there were a million reasons, from family ties to New York to an opportunity to play with Quinnen Williams up front. That said, one factor—or should we say one individual—had the biggest impact on his decision.
"I looked up some stuff on YouTube about coach Saleh," Lawson told reporters on Thursday. "I've heard about him throughout the league and I saw he took the job here. I looked at some of the interviews and I just came away with how impressive he was, the message that he was preaching. Even in a video, I felt like he was talking to me."
That first impression stuck with Lawson throughout his decision-making process. Combine the addition of Saleh with the hole New York had on the edge and it seemed like a perfect fit.
"When you've got a guy who's that passionate about [football], it makes you want to come in here and work each and every day," Lawson said of his new coach. "It makes you want to help come in here and build a culture."
Remember when Saleh first spoke to the media once he was hired? The coach explained how he wants to mold the Jets with his motto, "all gas, no brake."
Plus, Saleh gave a sneak peek into why players will want to come work for him.
"Can you help them make plays on Sundays so they can get paid as much as possible?" Saleh asked in January. "That is the goal of every single coach and everybody who has some type of impact on the players or has a connection to the players and that is going to be the goal of this entire organization. It's to make sure we do everything we can to connect to their wellbeing and to help them make plays on Sunday so they get paid as much as possible."
Lawson didn't specify, but that introductory press conference may very well have been the video the edge rusher watched when he was learning more about the head coach.
Signing Lawson won't win this team a championship, nor will it be the move that singlehandedly takes this team back to contention. The fact that Saleh's presence alone played a key role in convincing one of the best defensive ends on the market to choose the Jets, however, is a sign of what's the come.
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