May is prime optimism season in the NFL, yet Jets head coach Robert Saleh is already delivering a dose of reality to his team and fanbase.
All 32 teams will start the season with the same goal: Win the Super Bowl. Only a quarter of those teams will truly have a chance, though, according to Saleh.
The good news is he believes his team — which is destined to spend the next seven-plus months squarely in the spotlight — is one of the latter group.
“You want all the positivity obviously, but once we kick off on Monday night in that opener, the results are all that’s gonna matter,” Saleh said Tuesday. “To achieve the results you want, it doesn’t happen on game day. It happens today. It happened yesterday. It happens tomorrow. It happens with every breath you take in terms of how you’re preparing to achieve and keep that positivity rolling. Would love to go 17-0 and cruise through the playoffs and win a championship, but you’re not going to be able to unless you focus on the moment.
“So acknowledge the noise, acknowledge the positivity, be excited about it because there’s… In my opinion, 32 coaches stand in front of their teams every year, talk about winning a championship and then realistically there’s maybe six or eight teams that have an actual chance to do it, and I do think we are one of those teams.
“But none of it matter unless we take care of it today.”
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Much of this reads like coach speak, which is very typical of late May. But Jets fans should read this quote positively because it signals a shift in focus that matches New York’s heightened expectations.
Make no mistake: 2023 cannot end as 2022 did for the Jets. All of the goodwill built by a hot start was enough to sell Aaron Rodgers on New York, but a similarly disappointing finish will not be tolerable, not with a future Hall of Famer now playing the most important position on the roster.
Now is not the time to start feeling anxious about these expectations, of course. It is only May, which gives Saleh’s Jets plenty of time to acclimate and organize before execution truly matters (even if Saleh stressed otherwise with his above remarks). That time is also beneficial for getting some financial work done with some of the most important Jets — namely, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who is line for a pay day after a breakout 2022 season.
Williams is under contract through 2023, thanks to New York’s decision to pick up his fifth-year option prior to 2022. Ideally, though, the Jets would like to secure Williams’ services over the long haul.
Saleh told reporters he’s “not worried at all” about Williams’ impending deal, adding “that thing (contract) will get done and he’ll be here,” via The Athletic’s Zack Blatt.
As for Rodgers, he’s in attendance for OTAs, but he didn’t throw at Tuesday’s session, instead going through warmups and watching drills without a helmet on. The fact Rodgers was in attendance at all is an encouraging sign, considering how he’s spent recent offseasons away from his old team in Green Bay.
Again, it’s late May. We’re not close to the important time just yet. And everything appears to be going according to plan.
That plan, Saleh hopes, should lead them to finishing among the NFL’s elite.
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