The Saleh Effect: Proof the New Coach is Already Winning


By Lenn Robbins

It’s not often, heck, it’s a daunting task just trying to remember the last time the Jets were bathed in this gushing sea of praise. this is like sitting under one of those Caribbean waterfalls, being showered by a pure mountain stream.

 In beating out several other teams, the Jets landed the passionate, player-investor known as 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Before he could figure out which corner to banish the obligatory corporate office ficus tree, word leaked that disgruntled Houston Texas quarterback Deshaun Watson has the Jets as his top destination.

Because of the coach the Jets just hired.

Yes, Watson wants the Jets!

Not Miami, which has a better roster than the Jets and better weather than days like Monday when a sloppy mush of rain and sleet leave the streets a mosh pit.

Not Indianapolis, where the Colts are a quarterback away from being legitimate AFC title contenders.

Not San Francisco which played in last season’s Super Bowl but no longer has Saleh. The Jets do.

Watson wants to land at Newark Airport in one of the Woody Johnson’s private planes, be whisked immediately to the Jets facility in Florham Park, greet Saleh with a bro hug and joyfully announce, “Let’s Get One Baby!”

For Jets fans unaccustomed to this current of wave of positive water, we’re not talking about winning one game. This is about winning one Super Bowl. The first since 1969.

This is a team that won two games last season, losing 14 and in doing so lost the chance to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Watson, from Gainesville, Georgia, is the quarterback who lifted Clemson to the elite of college football. Lawrence, from Cartersville, Georgia saw what a great experience Watson had in Tigerland and made college football a two-program game – Clemson and Alabama.

These are the kind of superstar players and solid young men you trust with a franchise. Houston didn’t do that.

Watson, who reportedly is unhappy in Houston because ownership dismissed his wishes to weigh in on the hiring of a GM, has a no-trade clause in his contract that only he can waive. It seemed like a ‘Jets Eliminator’ clause. Who wants to get trade to the Jets

Then the Jets hired Saleh. In one gleaming green stroke of brilliance that hire changed the perception of the franchise.

Players speak to players just as employees in any field trade insider opinions on their respective businesses. One wonders if Watson was watching the press conference last Thursday when Saleh was asked about the Jets being Dysfunction Central.

“Unfair, clearly,” Saleh said. “Sometimes people think perception is reality but it’s furthest from the truth and especially when you actually sit down and speak with each individual.”

Saleh’s presence might not be the only reason Watson likes the Jets. He has an opportunity that appeals to athletes the way divorce attorneys appealed to Larry King:

He can be a savior. He can be Joe Namath without the balky knees. He can sit on Lady Liberty’s shoulder and look out over his city.

One can see the roll out if the Jets acquire Watson: Dressed in cowboy attire, green and pearl-white six shooters in each holster, Watson tips the rim of his white Stetson with a green felt band, and staring out from all those Times Square QLED video boards snarls, “Howdy Jets fans. There’s a new sheriff in town.”

OK, scrap all that. The Jets have real work to do before making a decision that will shape the course of the franchise for the next decade.

Do they trade their stash of stockpiled draft picks, courtesy of the excellent work of GM Joe Douglas, to acquire the 25-year-old Watson who just led the NFL in passing with 4,823 yards, despite playing on a 12-loss team?

Or, do they stay the tortoise course, building through this draft, and the next, and fee agency, all the while hoping, praying, fantasizing that another proven commodity such as Deshaun Watson is out there?

Imagine the baptism of joy that would shower Jets Nation.

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