The Jets haven’t completely gotten last year’s awful season out of their system, but they’re confident this year will be very different.
New coach Robert Saleh is a big reason.
"Last year was tough mentally," right guard Greg Van Roten said. "We have a lot of new faces this year. You hire Saleh and just feel like that weight is lifted and hope has come back into your building.
"Right now, everyone’s undefeated and everyone has the same shot of making the Super Bowl. That’s all you can ask for is just a fresh start in this league. There’s no one happier than the Jets to have that opportunity to start Page 1, let’s write this year’s chapter now."
The Jets lost their first 13 games last season and finished 2-14 under Adam Gase. He was fired and replaced by Saleh, who won a Super Bowl with Seattle and got to another with San Francisco.
Saleh’s motto of "All Gas, No Brake" has been well received by everyone inside the Jets’ building.
He just completed his first offseason program as an NFL head coach on Thursday. He was extremely happy with how it went, how the players embraced change and the new system on both sides of the football and how much they improved.
But Saleh said they’ve only laid the foundation. By no means is Saleh ready to say that the Jets are going to skyrocket into the playoff conversation.
There’s still a lot of work, discipline and building that need to be done. Saleh continues to stress that how the Jets handle adversity will be the true measure of this team.
"This is the world’s greatest honeymoon," Saleh said Thursday. "Whenever a new group comes in there’s the benefit of the doubt. Adversity will be the cement that creates and solidifies everything that’s been built, going through those tough times."
Just about everything about the Jets is new, which was expected after one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Saleh essentially brought a whole new staff. The Jets have a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson, new players on the offensive line and at skill positions. They’re switching to a West Coast-style offense with an outside zone blocking scheme.
The defense, which has new faces on the line, at linebacker and in the secondary, is going from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 front.
Saleh and his staff used the voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp to teach fundamentals and technique, learn the playbooks and establish the speed they operate and standard of how they practice.
Saleh said it’s up the players now to continue to study and work on their own so when they return for training camp at the end of July, they’re can pick up where they left off.
"They’re going to be presented with a million opportunities and a million decisions to capture what they accomplished and build upon it or go do something else," Saleh said. "I really want these guys to really grab hold of what they accomplished here, take it into these next 40 days and see if they can find a way to start a little bit better in training camp than when we leave today. I want to see everybody got better."
Saleh particularly liked the development of some of the young players. The Jets are a young team and could very well have rookies and second-year players getting the bulk of the snaps. Saleh knows there’s going to be growing pains, but he learned from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll not to be afraid to play young guys.
"You can’t as a football coach be afraid of those bumps because there’s a light at the end of the tunnel," Saleh said. "It might be a freight train or an actual light but it doesn’t matter. We’re going through that tunnel and you just got to go."
Saleh is looking forward to this break, to be with his wife and their seven children, swim in the pool with them and do some golfing. But he also can’t wait for his first training camp as a head coach and continuing to build this team.
"It’s cool that there’s a positive outlook," Saleh said. "It’s exciting that there’s a positive outlook. But we haven’t even scratched the surface yet in terms of what the overall outlook of this organization is for not only this year but the years to come."