Moments after being introduced as the Jets new head coach for the first time, Robert Saleh revealed his vision as to how he plans to bring New York back to contention.
"For our organization, get used to the mantra, all gas, no brake." Saleh said on Thursday at the beginning of his introductory press conference. "We’re not talking about effort on the field, we’re talking about the process at which we do things. We’re talking about the way we prepare, the way we wake up every single morning, the way we rehab, the way we communicate, the way we speak to one another."
Saleh may only be a matter of days into the first head coaching gig of his career, but he's an experienced leader. Over the last four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, and 16 total years working in the NFL, he's established a reputation for fostering winning cultures on and off the field.
Bringing that vision to an organization that boasts the longest active postseason drought in the NFL may be the toughest challenge of Saleh's career to this point. After all, New York has lost 35 games over the last three years and is coming off back-to-back campaigns full of disfunction and mediocrity with Adam Gase at the helm.
With hard work off the field and a commitment to Saleh's core values, the head coach believes he can turn this program around. Part of that includes the challenge of focusing on the future and judging the organization collectively on what happens next, rather than what's occurred in the past.
"There’s an investment that’s going to be made to one another—coaches to players, players to coaches, organization to everybody—and there’s an investment that’s going to be reciprocated," Saleh said. "Understanding that the all gas, no brake mentality that we’re going to have with how we wake up in the morning, how we rehab, how we prepare for meetings, how we take the practice field, how we’re deliberate in everything we do will lead to the results that you’ll see on Sunday. It will take time, but everything we do is going to be designed to win championships in the future."
The amount of time that it takes to turn that mission into reality will in large part depend on how general manager Joe Douglas, Saleh and his new coaching staff make a set of decisions over the next few months.
New York has the No. 2 pick in this spring's draft, a selection that can either change the trajectory of this franchise with the right prospect, add a surplus of draft capital in a trade or set the organization up for further disappointment. Package that with the Jets' situation at quarterback—deciding whether or not to build around Sam Darnold—and Saleh will have his hands full right away.
While the future is full of uncertainties, it's already clear that Saleh will be living by his mantra, putting his own pedal to the metal. One of the most highly sought-after head coaching candidates on the market explained that he chose New York because he felt a sense of family, a shared desire to return to respectability and a tight-knit community.
"When you have people who have that mindset, who have the humility, who have the heart to do what’s right for the organization, it’s really, really hard to fail," Saleh said. "I'm really excited to be a part of this and for them to put me into their circle, and I’m excited to get to work."
The 41-year-old will be judged down the line by the number in New York's win column each year and whether or not the Jets are playing meaningful games as the regular season ends and the postseason begins. For right now, however, all signs point toward Thursday's presser being looked back upon as a turning point for this organization.
"Go to bed better than when you woke up, that’s the mindset we’re going to have," Saleh said. "We’re very confident that’s going to lead to championships."