May 25, 2022

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Robert Saleh saw how Jets’ dream Senior Bowl…

4 min read
Robert Saleh saw how Jets’ dream Senior Bowl...


MOBILE, Ala. – This is Robert Saleh’s fourth time coaching in the Senior Bowl. He hopes it his last, as that would mean the Jets became a winner, but the coaching staff is embracing this opportunity this week.

The teams with the worst records that have returning head coaches are invited to coach in the Senior Bowl. This year, that is the Jets and the Lions. It is the first time since 1979 the Jets have coached this game.

Saleh and his staff get an up-close look at draft prospects at practice and in meetings all week. It is a valuable information gathering tool for draft preparation. It should give the Jets an advantage in evaluating the players on the National Team they are coaching here.

“We’ve always said you can hide at the combine but in the week’s worth of work [here], it’s a lot harder to hide,” Saleh said. “The biggest thing is going to be mental, their ability to absorb the playbook. We bring in the playbook that’s not so hard that they can’t get it because you’ve only got a week to install it, but we also don’t want it to be so easy where you don’t get the information you need on whether or not they can absorb the information that you’re giving them.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh
Jets head coach Robert Saleh
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“The mental part is really, really, really big on how much they can grasp and how quickly they can grasp it because if you think of an NFL game plan, it’s changing every week. This is basically like an NFL game plan.”

The Senior Bowl changed the way the coaching staffs are comprised this year. Saleh is here as an advisor, overseeing everything. Ron Middleton, the Jets’ tight ends coach, is the head coach this week. Along those lines, the Jets have their younger coaches running positional meetings, with their regular position coaches observing.

They get to see if a player is lazy or struggles to learn a concept. Judging talent is the easy part of the NFL Draft. It is all the other components of a prospect that are harder to comprehend. Coaching this week should help the Jets in that regard.

“You just want to see these young men and check their football character,” Saleh said. “The great thing about this game and this whole entire week is we get the information that you’re not going to see by watching the tape. We’re in the meetings with them. We have a little bit more of an intimate setting with these young men. That’s where I think the valuable information is going to come from. The practice is the practice. It’s the meeting rooms where I think we get the most value.”

Saleh was here three years ago as a member of the 49ers coaching staff. During that week, the 49ers coaches got to work with South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel. It was at the Senior Bowl that Samuel really jumped onto the 49ers radar. They drafted him in the second round that year and he has become a star in San Francisco.

“I know our guys, coach Kyle [Shanahan] and his offensive staff just absolutely fell in love with the young man, his competitive nature, his drive and his love for football,” Saleh said. “He was sitting there in the second round, an easy selection and the rest is history.”

Deebo Samuel lines up at the Senior Bowl in 2019
Deebo Samuel lines up at the Senior Bowl in 2019
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Deebo Samuel during the NFC Championship Game against the Rams on Jan. 30, 2022.
Deebo Samuel during the NFC Championship Game against the Rams on Jan. 30, 2022.
Getty Images

For Saleh and the Jets coaches, they also want to see how a player reacts when he makes a mistake.

“There’s going to be adversity for these kids this week,” Saleh said. “Someone’s going to drop a ball. Someone’s going to miss a block. Think about the pressure on these young men to perform their job and under this light, under this pressure when they make a mistake, what do they look like? How do they respond?

“Can you pick something up that tells you when he gets to New York and he gets pounded for something can he handle it? That’s a real thing. Those are all things we’re always looking at.”

https://nypost.com/2022/02/02/robert-saleh-saw-how-jets-dream-senior-bowl-scenario-can-work/