Christopher Johnson, Joe Douglas explain why Robert Saleh was right choice as Jets' head coach

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Scott Thompson
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Christopher Johnson/Robert Saleh/Joe Douglas
Christopher Johnson/Robert Saleh/Joe Douglas

Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said the words about new head coach Robert Saleh. And that was initially based off a virtual meeting.

“I was struck by his presence,” Johnson recalled Thursday.

The Jets went through an extremely thorough coaching search, interviewing candidates with different NFL backgrounds to find the right person for the job. Saleh was the one at the end of the day, and Johnson said that presence -- among other things -- immediately sold him.

“He was able to engage with us in a virtual interview,” Johnson said of Saleh. “He also clearly communicated a vision of this team that aligns with ours. When we met in person, it validated everything believed following our initial meeting.

“Robert has shown through his journey here that he is a leader and will engage the entire team and partner with (general manager) Joe (Douglas) to continue building the culture of a winning organization. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to innovate, motivate and collaborate. His character and passion are what they team needs.”

Douglas was the leader of the hunt for a new head coach, and he didn’t take it lightly that this was his first one with the Jets. Any GM doesn’t want to continue having to look for the right guy to lead the roster they put together, so Douglas set out to find someone to not only help the on-field product but also create the winning culture the Jets want in the locker room.

Like Johnson, the in-person meeting with Saleh just shored up their thoughts for him.

“This was a daunting task with this search,” Douglas said. “I feel like it was all-hands-on deck mentality and just working in collaboration with Christopher, with (president) Hymie (Elhai), our staff, our football ops staff, we really canvased the National Football League. And what kept coming back time and time again was how great a candidate that coach Saleh was. So when we talk about our criteria and what we’re looking for from a coach, he checked all those boxes.

“To get an opportunity to meet him for the first time, it just confirmed what everyone said about him.”

As it turns out, the feelings were mutual despite Saleh having numerous interviews for different head coaching roles throughout the league.

“When I left this building, there was nothing I wanted more than to have a call back to get back here,” Saleh said candidly.

Saleh was sold on the fact that Johnson, Douglas and team president Hymie Elhai just want to bring the Jets to glory. Winning championships is the only mindset and being a part of that process of turning things around at One Jets Drive is what Saleh wanted to be a part of.

To put it simpler, to be a part of the Jets family.

“I’ve always believed that it’s the people that make things work,” he said. “It’s the heart and humility of individuals that makes things work, and there’s no question going through this process with Christopher, Joe and Hymie that’s what they represent.”

So, as Saleh leads as head coach for the first time in his career, he already has a mantra that everyone in the organization will follow from the first day he steps into the building.

“For our organization, get used to the mantra: All gas, no brake,” he said. “When we talk about, 'All gas, no brake,' we’re not talking about effort on the field. We’re talking about the process of which we do things. We’re talking about the way we prepare, the way we wake up every single morning, the way we rehab, the way we communicate, the way we speak to one another. I cannot tell you enough how excited I am to work with this Jets organization and understanding that when we wake up every morning, we all -- from top down -- step on the pedal and find a way to get somewhat better from when we woke up.”