I have decided to write my Christmas list to Santa, but I haven’t been near good enough to parlay my altruistic benevolence into an NFL franchise. Even three ghosts pontificating the eternal hellfire in Woody Johnson’s future would not get him to cede the New York Jet franchise to me. So since I can’t get what I want (and I want the Jets severely) I guess I will just hope for a quality offseason full of joyous gifts that will bring the Jets a Lombardi Trophy. This is truly all I really desire in my football world.
The holiday season is the time to wish for things we would not buy for ourselves because there are others we care about more than our own needs. We hope a jolly man with a few billion dollars would extend the courtesy of giving joy to all Jets fans by firing a poor choice of a coach in Adam Gase and instilling a winning tradition to the Jets with some new blood.
There are many choices to choose from and a myriad of assistant coaches to peruse as well. I am not picky. I just want a winner, but I do believe we need a person with great leadership abilities who is young enough to enthuse our squad to greater heights.
Sure a tenured coach is great. He has the gift of experience, but you need a leader who can relate to his players as well as teach them how to win. He has to be able to galvanize the various groups...offensive line, linebackers, defensive backs, wide receivers, defensive line, etc. into cohesive units who understand how to be dominant and successful on their own. Football is a true team sport where the victory is a collective effort by the entire team. All aspects of the team must work as close knit groups.
A superior defensive line can instill enough pressure on a QB to give its secondary relief when injuries cause a downturn in talent. Likewise, the offensive line can hold their blocks longer when a replacement rookie RB has to start because of injury.
This is a team concept. Sure you would like every player to give their best at all times, but it is not humanly possible to sustain that kind of effort for an entire year on every single play. Injuries and outside interests rob teams of peak performance.
Yet you can still do a do a quality job on most plays and step it up when the game is on the line.
Who should you have as your head coach?
This is a more difficult question than it may seem. Many people feel that a defensive style head coach cannot instill and maintain an innovative type of offense while many believe an offensive coach relies too much on his offense to win the game. So who do you trust?
The answer is you trust the coach, one who is a leader of men, the type of person who has conviction and knowledge to lead a team. If your coach has a great offensive or defensive mind yet is not a leader you are doomed from the start.
This is the Mike Tomlin synopsis, the kind of coach who has minimal coordinator experience yet a strong, smart leader. He is the coach and not the GM. He takes what he is given and is thankful for what he has.
The Steelers are always true to their roots as they are a tough, hard nosed squad with a defensive mentality but an offensive desire to create big plays.
So who would I choose as a head coach? It would take a painful search of qualified candidates leaving no stone unturned. Since I can’t do that investigation myself I can’t give a definitive answer that I would be bound by. Yet if I had to chose (and this is really, really preliminary) I would choose Robert Saleh the defensive coordinator from the 49ers.
Saleh fits many of the boxes in my search guide. He is young (40) with a good football mind who worked as the linebackers coach in Jacksonville and the defensive quality control coach in Seattle. He has a lot of positive energy that his players respond to in a effective way. Saleh has been strongly endorsed by Richard Sherman and coach Pete Carroll.
Saleh has been the architect of the 49ers defensive turnaround this year. Saleh has seen to come out of nowhere to become a head coaching candidate yet he worked his way up the hard way. He played tight end for 4 years at Northern Michigan and graduated with a degree in finance. He then took a job in Detroit at a Comerica Bank but didn’t stay very long. He left the security of a bank job and took a job as an assistant at Michigan State in 2002.
He then took a low level job with the Texans in 2005. This is where he first met 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. In Houston he had multiple jobs, staying until 2010 when he took a position with the Seattle Seahawks.
“He got recommended from somebody to us, and he had been a really well-respected quality control guy at the time from Houston. And we interviewed him and really liked him and we’re fortunate to get him. ... There was no question that Robert was going to really be a good ball coach and can be a leader of the defense and all that from the start.” Pete Carroll said.
Saleh was the defensive quality control coach in Seattle working alongside coaches such as Ken Norton Jr, Kris Richard and Gus Bradley while helping construct the Legion of Boom. While there he impressed those around him while learning the intricacies of the Cover 3 defensive scheme with his dogged preparation and his attention to detail.
He certainly impressed Richard Sherman. “He’s a mad man,” Sherman said. “He will work himself to death. You give him a bye, you give him a day off where he can just work freely, you’ll come back and he’ll have drawn some really unique things up. And he’ll implement them in a really simple fashion and make sure everybody understands it. ... You can’t help but want to make his vision come to life.”
Saleh preaches “extreme violence” to his defensive players with a passion you rarely find. This is in stark contrast to a guy head coach Kyle Shanahan affectionately calls “Gandhi.” Shanahan is highly complimentary of Saleh, “I think he knows how to coach defense, If you don’t stress extreme violence, it’s tough to play football. He knows what it takes, but he just wears a bracelet on it -- it’s not like it’s tatted on his face or anything. He’s a nice guy, but he’s a very good coach who knows how to get the most out of his players.”
Robert Saleh will be a head coach in the NFL next year I am confident of that. Whether he is a good fit for the Jets is as of yet to be determined, but I think he is the kind of coach an underachieving team like the Jets needs.
What about assistants?
Now if the Jets should hire Robert Saleh as head coach who should he bring in as his assistants?
To me when you have a coach who is a first time head coach it is nice to have assistants around you who have been head coaches before. Situations will arise during an NFL season that will be unforeseen, and it is nice to have coaches who have around you with experience as the leader of a team Saleh can fall back on.
My choice for offensive coordinator would be a stretch considering I don’t think Saleh and he have ever been in the same room let alone worked together. I would like Jay Gruden to become the offensive coordinator, the former head coach of the team from our nation’s capital. I think working with an owner like Daniel Snyder and a team president like Bruce Allen has soured Gruden on the head coaching job for a while. I know a lot of Jets fans are not fond of Woody or Chris Johnson (neither am I), but the two henchmen in Washington are as reprehensible as any executive in any sport.
Gruden is a sharp offensive mind who helped the career of Kirk Cousins and stabilized the franchise in Washington after Mike Shanahan used RG III like a college triple option QB and essentially ruined his career. With the price given up to get RG III the team in Washington was left with less Draft capital to fortify their team.
Many people point to Sean McVay as the mastermind behind the turnaround with the Rams after the fossil Jeff Fisher almost ruined Jared Goff’s career before it began. They would be correct in that assumption. Yet it was Gruden who was the guy who brought McVay in as an offensive coordinator and had him call plays.
Obviously McVay is a sharp mind and had a lot of great ideas to build and offense, but do not undervalue the input Jay Gruden had on his development. McVay was the OC in Washington from 2014 to 2016 and learned plenty from Jay Gruden in those 3 years.
Gruden had a lot of bad luck in Washington with injuries as his offensive line was a top 5 unit until it was decimated by an inordinate amount of devastating injuries. He also had little control over the players drafted once Bruce Allen assumed control from Scot McCloughan (who was a quality talent evaluator).
Players like Josh Doctson (1st round #22) and Dwayne Haskins (1st Round #15) were forced on Gruden when he didn’t really want either player. Yet Gruden did well with what he had. He eventually failed because of attrition and the idiocy of the front office. I think an easy job like offensive coordinator (just kidding) would be right up his alley, and I think he is the kind of coach who could get Sam Darnold the type of technical support he needs.
If Jay Gruden can transform Sam Darnold into a technically sound quarterback then he is worth his weight in gold to the Jets. Gruden would be the first true offensive mind that Sam Darnold has ever had. That alone is a reason to give Gruden the job. He could do wonders with Sam. A Sam Darnold with correct mechanics and a renewed understanding on how to play the quarterback position would be a revelation. The Jets need that type of Sam Darnold if they expect to become a serious contender in the NFL.
The defensive coordinator would be a passionate person just like Saleh himself, someone who understands NFL offenses and how to stop them. This is not an easy task as the offense has had the fortune of repeated rule changes that limit what they can do.
My choice for defensive coordinator would be Gregg Williams who is currently the defensive coordinator of the Jets. I think Gregg has done a great job given his limited talent base and may be one of the best defensive performances of a defense in his career. Remember he lost his defensive leader and play caller (Williamson) in the preseason and had to adjust accordingly. I have no idea how well Saleh and Williams would get along considering their explosive personalities or even their defensive philosophies, but if they were to get along it could be glorious.
There is need to go on about Gregg Williams we know who he is.
I think Brant Boyer has done a fine job with the special teams for the Jets. Other than the debacle the Jets had with the kicking game early in the year, which wasn’t Boyer’s fault, the unit has done well. There is no need to change a coordinator when the one you have is doing a good job. Now this could change if Robert Saleh has a guy he likes in mind.
I believe the GM should be the decision maker on whom the Jets draft or pick up in free agency. Of course the head coach will have his thoughts known as well, but the final decision lies with the GM. On the other hand, I believe the head coach has the final say on the coaches on his team. All the coaches should be able to work well together and form a single voice to the team.
Finally I think the coaches should be paid extraordinarily well. The Jets are like an ATM that spews cash in amazing amounts so why not pay your coaches well? If a coach like Jay Gruden is making some good coin he may opt to stay on as a coordinator rather than take a job as a head coach somewhere else. In Gruden’s case he might have flashbacks from his time in Washington working with those two bozos so he might stay anyway.
People who like where they are and feel appreciated in their jobs tend to stay in a situation like that. They don’t always jump at the money or reach for control if they like where they are to begin with.
We just made a great main meal with three impressive side dishes so how about some presents to make this a holiday to remember?
The Jets have 40 players under contract next year with only $62 million in cap space to work with barring cuts. Just so you know, any release or trade of Trumaine (worthless) Johnson leaves a substantial dead money trail. I would do it anyway. He is just dead weight. Thanks Macc!
Players I would like to sign in free agency
Not that all these players would be available, but we can dream can’t we?
Jack Conklin Offensive Tackle (age 26)
I just loved Jack Conklin out of the 2016 Draft. He was the one of the two players (along with Jalen Ramsey) I would have traded up for. Conklin was an All Pro his first year in the NFL then had a devastating knee injury. He has had a long road back but has since become a top player at right tackle. The Titans didn’t pick up his 5th year option making him a free agent this coming season. He would be a huge upgrade and a young player (26) to fortify the offensive line for a long time.
Brandon Scherff Offensive Guard (age 28)
Scherff is a player who has played for my offensive coordinator Jay Gruden so he might be more inclined to sign with a coach he knows well. It will probably take a 5 year $50-60 million contract to sign him, but it would be well worth it. Scherff is a great guard who would be a quality player and a voice on the offensive line. He is a leader who demands greatness from his players around him.
Alex Lewis Offensive Guard (age 26)
You don’t have to look far for Lewis as he is already in the building. I am surprised that Lewis has not been signed already. He has done a quality job and been one of the best graded guards in the NFL in the past few weeks. This is a no brainer.
The Jets trade our 2nd round pick and our 3rd round pick in the 2020 NFL draft to the team from Washington for OT Trent Williams and 4th and 5th round picks. Washington has been reluctant to trade Williams because the team president is an egotistical, imperious, maniacal control freak who is a franchise crusher. I am confident once Daniel Snyder pulls his head out of his derriere he will fire Bruce Allen and put in someone with a little common sense; maybe. That person will realize he or she has a player who will not play for you but has value in Draft picks once he is traded. Washington could have reaped a low 1st round pick if they had traded Williams earlier in the year, but now they are backed into a corner so teams will be reluctant to give them full value for Williams.
The NFL Draft
The draft is a long way from Christmas and I don’t want to seem greedy to the big man in the red suit, but I will toss out a few names I will be looking at come April. Again a lot can change in the next few months so this is a very preliminary list.
You will get a sense of a pattern
Andrew Thomas Offensive Tackle- Georgia 6’ 5” 320 lbs
Thomas is a top quality left tackle prospect who has All Pro type talent if he develops properly. I know I just signed and traded for a couple of tackles, but I want to turn a area of weakness into an area of strength for the next 5 years at least. Injuries happen all the time on the offensive line so it would be nice to have a great talent available so the line doesn’t miss a beat because of an injury.
Tyler Biadasz Center - Wisconsin 6’ 2” 318 lbs
Biadasz is tops on my offensive center list as of now. He is an athletic center but also has good size and strength as well. He would be a plug and play prospect, a starter from day one on the Jets revamped offensive line.
Creed Humphrey Center - Oklahoma 6’ 5” 316 lbs
Humphrey is just below Biadasz on my list but not by much. I will need to see his length to see if he can be a top level center in the NFL. I love his strength, and he usually plays with good leverage. He is definitely on my watch list.
Trey Smith Offensive Guard - Tennessee 6’ 6” 313 lbs
Smith is a road grader type of player, and I love road grader guards He would be a quality backup to start and then move into the line in the future without missing a beat.
Quintez Cephus Wide Receiver - Wisconsin 6’ 1” 207 lbs
Cephus has come on of late, and in a deep receiver pool he is the type of player who could slip through the cracks and be available in the mid rounds. He is a true hands catcher which is always a must for me. I worry about his speed so testing will be important to his worth in the Draft. He comes from a run first offense and has had poor QB play his entire career. He could be a sleeper.
Yetur Gross-Matos Edge - Penn st 6’ 5” 265 lbs
Great length,quick off the ball, and a relentless motor...what is not to like? He may test well which would take him out of my range in the Draft. I will be highlighting him in the future.
Jeff Gladney Cornerback - TCU 6’ 0” 185 lbs
There are a lot of top corners to choose from Okudah, Fulton (who I love) Diggs, Wade, Adebo just to name a few. Gladney has good quickness and is smart. He anticipates well and could develop into a quality outside corner. I will need to see his speed, though, and he may need to get a little stronger to play in the NFL. Gladney is another player who could slide down in the Draft coming from TCU, which is not known for their corners.
There are about 200 players I could list here off the top of my head that I am watching. That said I want the Jets to build their team from the inside out. Start with the line. Our defensive line is already well stocked. Let’s work on the offensive side of the ball and make that unit a top five group in the NFL.
We could use a couple of corners, a WR or two, and throw in a quality edge rusher while we are at it. That is a lot to do in a single Draft so it might take a few classes to get where we want to go. The key is to draft quality in talent and more importantly in character. Let’s not have a repeat of the Polite fiasco.
Anyway this is my wish list. Who is on yours?