Jets coach Robert Saleh fired back on Friday at those who cracking jokes about the Jets following orders from new quarterback Aaron Rodgers on who to add to the team.
Back in March, ESPN reported that Rodgers had given the Jets a “wish list” of players he would like them to pursue.
They signed wide receiver Allen Lazard, who was on the list, in March and then pursued Odell Beckham Jr., who was the biggest name on the list.
This week, they signed Randall Cobb, another former Rodgers teammate in Green Bay who he reportedly asked for.
The Cobb signing led to lots of jokes on social media about Rodgers being the Jets general manager and the team becoming the New York Packers.
Saleh was not laughing.
“I’m going to try to say this as respectfully as I can. I’m not attacking anyone,” Saleh said. “I do think it’s a silly narrative with regards to the wish list. I say that because there are 32 teams in the NFL and it’s common practice for when there are changes, when you have a new coaching staff, when you have new people coming, you surround those people with people they’re familiar with.”
Saleh also pointed out that new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has familiarity with Cobb and Lazard as well as new offensive lineman Billy Turner, another former Packer the Jets recently signed.
“Everything is being pinned on the quarterback. It’s not just him,” Saleh said. “Hackett has something to say about it. He loves Lazard, loves Randall. He took Billy Turner with him to Denver, wanted him here. Of course, you’re going to surround a coach with people he feels will be able to plant the flag.
“That whole narrative of whatever people are trying to put on the quarterback, I think it’s tired. It’s common practice in the NFL.”
Saleh pointed out that after he was hired as the head coach of the Jets, he lobbied for the team to sign players who he had previously coached in San Francisco.
“I had a wish list – Solomon Thomas, Marcel Harris, D.J. Reed, Kwon Alexander, guys who I’ve worked with who are very familiar with our messaging, very familiar with our scheme and can come in and play,” Saleh said. “Shoot, Tom Brady goes to Tampa and he gets Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. It is very common for new faces to want old faces, to be able to come in and help accelerate the installation of a program.”
Saleh said it has been impressive to watch Rodgers work at the team’s voluntary workouts over the past week.
The 39-year-old has wowed people inside the Jets with his approach and how he communicates with everyone from teammates to team staffers.
“I’ve never been around a quarterback quite like him personally,” Saleh said. “All of his experience, his communication, every play just talking to the receivers, talking to the backs, his demeanor in the meetings, all of that stuff. He is practically another coach out there. He’s been pretty impressive.”
Saleh said he was never concerned about whether Rodgers would be here for the voluntary spring practices.
He sensed that Rodgers knew what he had to do when the two met in early March.
“You just see a fire in the guy’s eye when you’re sitting and talking to him,” Saleh said. “Like, he is going to do everything. He’s coming to win. You can feel it in his voice and you can see it in his eyes and the way he’s going about his business.”
Rodgers has also embraced New York City.
He has been to Rangers and Knicks playoff games with teammates and has been quite visible.
“I think he’s soaking it up,” Saleh said. “New York is different, obviously. I don’t want to speak for him. I think deep down, he’s a big-city guy at heart. I know he’s been enjoying it. I know he was in absolute awe of Madison Square Garden, which I was, too, when I first went. It’s probably the coolest stadium in all of sports. He’s embracing it. He’s been enjoying it, all of it.”
Saleh was at the Knicks-Heat playoff game on Tuesday as well as Rodgers and Sauce Gardner. Saleh was asked what he has to do to get better seats like Rodgers.
“Win a few more games,” Saleh deadpanned.