Early Wednesday afternoon, the New York Jets announced that head coach candidate and San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh had concluded his second interview with the team. To many, it was a sigh of relief at first glance, given the interview began Tuesday evening. However, it was shortly met by panic, upon realizing the supposed frontrunner for the job was allowed to just walk away.
Of course, Jets fans have every right to be anxious over Saleh departing, especially given Adam Gase was the last man to come away with the head coach job. At the same time, fans must realize that the Jets were never going to keep Saleh from leaving Florham Park.
New York Jets Were Not Going To Prevent Robert Saleh From Leaving
Strong Interest From Both Sides
The Jets have been running a very large head coach search, with nine candidates having interviewed once for the job. Those candidates being Saleh, Matt Eberflus, Arthur Smith, Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll, Brandon Staley, Aaron Glenn, Marvin Lewis, and Joe Brady. Each of them has a strong resume that would make for a quality hire.
Yet it was Saleh who led Jets Twitter to buy in that the search was coming to an end. Saleh had completed his interviews with the teams that initially requested as of two weeks ago. There is also the fact that it became clear that Saleh was in strong standing with the Jets.
By the time Saleh left Wednesday afternoon, he had not only met with General Manager Joe Douglas but also the team’s upper brass and acting owner Christopher Johnson. Douglas is running the head coach search, though Johnson has the final say given he writes the checks. Thus, leaving many to believe a deal could be done Wednesday.
That is until it was not.
New York Cast a Very Wide Net…
From the beginning, Douglas emphasized how the Jets were “going to cast a very wide net” and how “It’s important that we find a person with high integrity, outstanding leadership skills, and communication skills.” Those being traits that Saleh exemplifies week in and week out on the 49ers sideline and in the team’s locker room.
Nonetheless, Saleh is not the only one who the Jets are looking at. Again, there are eight other candidates who have interviewed for the job. In fact, Wednesday night Smith, the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, has an in-person interview with New York.
Ultimately, the Jets head coach search was never going to end based on one in-person interview. And the same can be said about Saleh.
…and Robert Saleh Did Too
Robert Saleh interviewed with every team requested as of two weeks ago, except for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles requested to interview Saleh days ago. After all, they only fired head coach Doug Pederson on Monday.
By letting Saleh walk, while the Jets do risk him being hired elsewhere, they are being respectful in allowing him to explore all his options. Saleh, who somehow was not hired during the 2020 coaching cycle, is one of the hottest names on the market. Any potential head coach wants to explore all options available, and Saleh is no different.
The Head Coach Search Continues
Any day now, the Jets could hire their next head coach. One that Douglas wants as his partner moving forward in his attempt to rebuild the Jets. A head coach hire can make or break a general manager’s career, and Douglas wants to make sure he gets the right man for the job. It may be Saleh. Maybe it will be Smith. Or it could be someone yet to be interviewed.
The bottom line, for now, is that Douglas is doing the hiring process the right way by sorting through all candidates. Even if it means waiting a little longer to announce to fans who will be the head coach in 2021.
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