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Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh makes a costly mistake

As an aspiring NFL GM, it is the job of an organization’s key leaders to instill belief and confidence in the roster. In New York, that is not happening right now. 

Reports are billowing out of the Jets’ building that head coach Robert Saleh is already insulating both his first-round draft pick and himself in excuses.

Saleh is already telling the world “It is going to get worse before it gets better.” Of course, in his statement, Saleh is leaving the timeline for improvement open-ended which is his attempt to secure the situation for himself and Wilson for as long as possible. 

Leadership sets the bar. Leadership sets the expectations. If leadership does not believe and if they can not communicate that belief, nobody else is going to believe it either – – and with division rivals, Buffalo, New England, and Miami all poised for ten plus victory seasons fasten your seat belts and lock your tray table, this is going to get ugly. The head coach is already bracing the team’s fan base for a crash landing when the 2021 season is still on the runway? The team has yet to even play their first pre-season game and Saleh is already readjusting expectations? 

This cannot be good. 

As a former Jets’ scout who has walked the hallways in the building, this tells me Saleh has already seen enough out of Wilson in practice and the Green and White scrimmage last Saturday to see the kinds of problems that are ahead. It is also clear Saleh is starting to see what I told anyone who would listen prior to the draft. 

The most surprising part of this is Saleh’s handling of the situation. Saleh is handling this far differently than his old boss, 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan. While I believe Lance is a sure-fire bust, Shanahan is at least taking the approach of doing everything in his power to instill confidence and belief in his rookie signal-caller. 

Saleh has apparently decided to go another route. Saleh is taking the approach of early damage control to brace the fans – – and ownership for probable impact. While I do not argue that rookie QB’s can struggle, I do argue that there is no way in the world Saleh should be building a wall of excuses around Wilson that embrace failure. 

Last season, this same exact approach blew up in former Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia’s face. He came out at the beginning of the season and said, “understand that it is week 1, and there’s going to be some bad football here through September.”

Guess what – – nobody in leadership was talking like that last season in Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Buffalo, Kansas City, Green Bay or Seattle. All six of those NFL teams kicked off the 2020 season 4-0. 

The Lions started 1-3. 

Detroit produced exactly what their head coach expected them to produce, losing. 

This past off-season, I attempted to get in front of Mr. Christopher Johnson and Mr. Woody Johnson with a revolutionary plan that would have won the Super Bowl this season for the Jets. 

I am going staple Saleh’s article from Newsday to my resume. 

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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