Will Sam Darnold be the Jets’ quarterback in 2021?
It’s the question that has been on everyone’s mind even before Robert Saleh was hired as Jets head coach last week, and one of the first Craig & Evan asked the new HC of NYJ in his first appearance on WFAN’s Carton & Roberts Show Thursday.
Saleh reiterated what he had said at his introductory press conference earlier in the day – it’s way too early and unfair to speculate on roster decisions – but he did have good praise for Darnold.
“I can’t speak for the past and what happened to Sam, and I’ll never speculate because my job is to coach the men on my team and get them where they want to go – but what I can tell you is that bringing the Shanahan system here, it’s the ultimate quarterback-friendly system to maximize talent,” Saleh told Craig & Evan. “Sam is a talented young man, and that pops off the tape. His arm talent, accuracy, ability to throw on move, fearlessness in the pocket – everything about him screams why he was a No. 3 overall pick. He’s still just 23 years old, and has a lot of juice in the tank, and as long as Sam is here, he will get everything we have.”
For all of those who were sure Darnold was toast the minute Adam Gase was fired, well, Saleh says not so fast – and that goes for everyone on the roster.
“Sometimes the messaging and viewpoint just has to be different, and things don’t just happen and change overnight,” Saleh said. “We’re bringing in schemes that are clearly able to identify a skillset for players to fit in to maximize their talent, and then matching players to those roles. A lot of things will happen between now and our first practice, but we’re confident we can match up our schemes to the talent to see what’s there, and assess and make the best decisions for the organization.”
Perhaps a good decision they’ve already made is to surround Saleh with a coaching staff, 14 so far, that has various ranges of experience, including quite a few people he has worked with in San Francisco that can help him implement that Shanahan system.
“Everyone has weaknesses; for me, you can say I’m a first-time head coach, but we’ve brought in guys like (passing game coordinator) Greg Knapp and (defensive coordinator) Jeff Ulbrich who relieve some of that pressure with their experience,” Saleh said. “There are still hires to be made and things to get done on filling voids, but I’m excited about where the staff is, and the way they complement each other with their different knowledge and skillsets.”
Of course, Craig and Evan had a little fun with Saleh too, asking him how much he can bench (he maxed out at 27 reps at 225 pounds, for the record), or how he feels about people talking about his good looks – “I don’t have social media or anything, so the only one who tells me that is my wife,” Saleh quipped.
His wife is already house shopping in New Jersey and will, the coach says, hopefully have his family settled within weeks…and that closeness, wanting them to be here ASAP, just further speaks to the “family” mantra Saleh espouses, and the vibe he wants to bring to the organization.
“In my heart, I believe people are what make things work. The people here have the right mindset, and them inviting me into the circle is more a blessing on me than the other way around,” Saleh said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the name on the front of the jersey and what we’re trying to make that reflect. Where these men want to get to professionally is everything.”
Listen to Saleh’s entire segment with Carton & Roberts below!