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Jets coach Robert Saleh preaches patience with the rebuild and excitement for 'the flip'

Head coach Robert Saleh of the New York

Head coach Robert Saleh of the New York Jets against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Robert Saleh is asking the understandably frustrated Jets fans for more patience, and he believes they have something to be thankful for this holiday week.

Even though the Jets are careening toward an 11th straight season without a playoff berth, Saleh said these are not the same old Jets because of the people in charge.

Saleh strongly believes that the vision and plan he and general manager Joe Douglas have put in place will lead to real and spectacular success . . . in time.

"I respect the urgency from the fans and the wanting to flip this thing," Saleh said. "But in fairness this is first time this fan base is actually experiencing something like this. Usually, it’s been a quick fix followed by a scramble. This is an actual plan.

"I feel like Joe is doing a phenomenal job, a really, really concise plan of how to build from the ground up. There’s a lot of exciting pieces on this team that are hidden in these losses."

The Jets are 2-8, tied for the second-worst record in the NFL. They currently have the No. 2 pick in next year's draft as well as No. 6, which they acquired from Seattle in the Jamal Adams trade.

They’re in position to add quality pieces, which should help this rebuild. But for Jets fans, it probably sounds like a broken record. It didn’t take Saleh too long to learn how sick tired the Jets fans are of losing.

"I was joking with somebody that one year in New York is like dog years," the first-year head coach said. "There is euphoria or disaster, there is no in-between."

The fans hoped Saleh’s hiring after two dreadful seasons under Adam Gase would produce immediate results. But the Jets have been non-competitive in a number of games, putting Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich in the crosshairs at different times this season.

"We embrace the expectation," Saleh said. "We want to win. We’re trying to teach this young group and these young men how to win these games. It’s all about the process and trying to find ways to get better and get these scars – I call them scars in terms of gameday experiences – but it’s going to get turned."

Saleh referenced rebuilds he’s gone through in Houston, Seattle, Jacksonville and San Francisco, and said they all started similarly. He won a Super Bowl with Seattle and reached another as defensive coordinator of the 49ers.

"One thing in this league, you’ve got to have patience," veteran right tackle Morgan Moses said. "Rome wasn’t built in one day and this thing is not going to turn around in one day."

The Jets’ plan is to build through the draft and have the flexibility to snare impact players through free agency and trades. But don’t break the bank.

They want a roster mixed with youth and young veterans while the coaches teach and stress the importance of fundamentals, technique and mastering the systems on both sides of the ball.

"There’s so many promising pieces on this football team," Saleh said. "To Joe’s credit he knows exactly where we need to get. We know exactly what we need to teach and the players know exactly what we need to get better at."

Douglas is the Jets’ fourth general manager since their last playoff appearance, and Saleh their fourth coach.

John Idzik replaced Mike Tannenbaum as general manager. He lasted two seasons. Mike Maccagnan brought in veterans, over-spending for many of them, and drafted poorly. He made it through four seasons. Todd Bowles, who replaced Rex Ryan as head coach, went 10-6 his first season and won 14 games over his final three.

Time is ticking on Douglas, though.

He’s is in his third season on the job. Douglas’ first draft class last year has earned him some criticism. This draft class, which Saleh called "fantastic," looks good thus far. Ultimately it will be judged by what quarterback Zach Wilson becomes.

"This team’s moving in the right direction," Saleh said. "I’m really excited about the flip that it’s going to have. And I think Jets fans, for this, are going to be very happy."

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