Robert Saleh has emerged as a finalist for the Jets head coaching job.
The NFL Network reported that the Jets flew Saleh in for a second interview on Tuesday. General manager Joe Douglas and other team officials met with Saleh virtually on Friday.
The 49ers defensive coordinator is the first reported candidate to get a second interview with the Jets.
Saleh, 41, is one of the more sought-after coaches this offseason. He has interviewed with the Lions, Jaguars, Falcons and Chargers. The Eagles reportedly requested to speak with Saleh about their coaching vacancy that opened when they fired Doug Pederson on Monday.
If the Jets believe Salah is their guy they may have to act quickly because he’s in such high demand. But Douglas said he would be very thorough and may want to conduct second interviews with other candidates before making his final decision.
The Jets have completed nine known interviews to this point in their search for Adam Gase’s replacement. Four are coaches on teams that have playoff games this weekend. They’re not allowed to meet in-person until their teams are out of the playoffs.
The four are Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley and Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn.
The Jets reportedly have strong interest in Daboll, who has worked under Bill Belchick and Nick Saban and was a part of five Super Bowl-winning teams with the Patriots.
The other candidates the Jets have interviewed are former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith
The Jets also could seek an interview with Pederson. Douglas spent three years in the Eagles front office while Pederson was the coach and they have a good relationship.
From the outset, the Jets have said they’re looking for someone who is very different than Gase, an offense-centric coach who wasn’t a great leader or communicator. Saleh is almost the exact opposite.
Saleh, the 49ers defensive coordinator the past four seasons, is known for inspiring his players, developing them and getting the most out of the them.
This year, despite losing key players to free agency or injury, Saleh’s group was the No. 4 passing defense and No. 5 overall defense in the league. Last year, the 49ers had the NFL’s No. 2 overall defense and top passing defense and reached the Super Bowl.
Saleh played tight end in college at Northern Michigan University, but he’s been on the defensive side of coaching throughout his NFL career.
There have been reports that if Saleh gets a head coaching job, he might try to bring San Francisco’s 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur with him. LaFleur is the brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur.
Saleh was on Seattle’s defensive staff when they were nicknamed "The Legion of Boom" and won a Super Bowl. Saleh helped develop K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith.
He began his NFL career in 2005 as a Texans defensive intern. He was promoted to Houston’s defensive quality control coach and assistant linebackers coach. Saleh also served as linebackers coach for the Jaguars.
Another reason the Jets may have to act fast is Saleh has been linked to the Lions’ job. He’s from Dearborn Michigan and has the support of some local leaders.
A group of Michigan state legislators wrote a letter to Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp urging her to hire Saleh, who began his coaching career at Michigan State.
The Lions are also in the process of hiring a general manager. Saleh is one of seven known candidates for the Detroit coaching job.