AFC East Notes: Saleh, Darnold, Patriots, Bills

Robert Saleh signed his contract with the Jets today, making him the 20th head coach in franchise history. While speaking to the media, the former 49ers defensive coordinator indicated that he’d be looking for specific types of players as he helps general manager Joe Douglas fill out the roster.

“There are no shortcuts to success, and I am committed to working with Joe to build this team the right way: with talented players that play fast and smart, and a staff that supports and helps develop them through it all,” Saleh said (via the team website).

Douglas, who led the coaching search alongside included team president Hymie Elhai, noted that Saleh believes in many of the same principals that the executive brought with him from Philadelphia when he joined the Jets in 2019.

“We spoke to some tremendous coaches, but Rob is the right partner and leader for us,” Douglas said. “His vision for this team aligns with what we have been working to establish here the last two years.”

The 41-year-old Saleh was an early favorite for the job based on the strength of his SF defense. In 2020, the Niners finished fifth in total yards, seventh in rushing yards, and fourth in passing yards allowed. In 2019, Saleh’s D surrendered just 169.2 passing yards per contest — the lowest average since Rex Ryan‘s 2009 Jets D.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC East…

  • Saleh and new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur have spent time evaluating Sam Darnold‘s tape, and the coaches believe the Jets quarterback has “untapped potential,” per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The former third-overall pick had a rough season in 2020, leading some to wonder whether the new staff would prefer to take a quarterback with the second-overall pick.
  • The eight Patriots players who opted out of the 2020 season were asked to return for year-end physicals last week, writes ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Wideout Marqise Lee and running back Brandon Bolden have both said they plan to play in 2021, and Reiss opines that safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse, and fullback Danny Vitale will also return. However, the writer is much less certain that offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and linebacker Dont’a Hightower will be back in New England.
  • While Dave Ziegler was always an underdog in the Broncos GM search, he parlayed that experience into a “multiyear contract and pay bump as Nick Caserio‘s successor” in New England, writes Reiss. The Patriots assistant director of player personnel eventually withdrew his name from the search in Denver, and Reiss writes that this is a “reflection of the decisiveness that has earned him a measure of respect in the Patriots’ offices over the past eight year.”
  • Bills running back Zack Moss underwent minor surgery on his ankle this morning, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 23-year-old is expected to make a full recovery from the “tight rope procedure,” and he should be ready to go for offseason workouts. The third-rounder finished his rookie campaign having compiled 576 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.
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8 comments on “AFC East Notes: Saleh, Darnold, Patriots, Bills

  1. arty!

    I truly hope the Jets can turn themselves around. It was good to see DC, & Cleveland in the playoffs again. While Miami made a strong push themselves for a spot.

    • king beas

      Jets lions and bengals hopefully turn it around and it’s not the same teams like the packers Steelers saints ravens as it has been for a while now

  2. Simmons>Russ

    I think Darnold will have a really good season now that Gase is gone. Hopefully they address giving him some attacking weapons.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets traded down from the second overall pick for some other picks. I’d try swap the Dolphins the second pick for the 18th, the 34th? And another pick like round 5.

    Then with the 18th, 23rd, and two early second round picks you can write up a list of players you’d like and cross them off as they go but take who’s available when you can. Start of with the likes of Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris, Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley, Chris Basham etc.
    If available Waddle 18, Harris 23, Farley 34 and then whoever 35 would be an excellent draft.

    Give Darnold a receiver and ball carrier who can make an immediate impact and then get Saleh some defenders

    • Darnold is seeing ghosts. Offensive line can be the only priority in for the Jets until they build a Green Wall to protect Darnold and open running lanes. Darnold must re-acquire his confidence or be dealt to a team with the blockers to protect him (the Colts for instance). Heck, LeVeon Bell was next to useless behind that line (I’m speaking about the Bell available to the Jets in his first season, he seems to have lost a step this year).

      • downeysoft42

        I think taking Becton was a great step to start the help on that side, didn’t they also take mims i think it was in the 2nd round out of Baylor last year? Maybe if jones isn’t happy in Green Bay they can pay him for a better back. I think they have some good pieces I personally think Cj Mosley not being available at all since signing that contract has been the difference maker. If he’s there that defense will improve (if he’s not washed up now) and the team could go somewhere with a good draft again.

  3. mookiesboy

    One way to play this – if they like Sam – is to work out a team friendly extension Now. Add three years that gives Sam security and a chance to cash in as a 27 year old. and it gives the Jets the next four years to build a team

  4. crosseyedlemon

    Pretty big shoes for Ziegler to fill in New England but the timing is right for the Patriots to explore some fresh approaches.

  5. jay13

    I’m glad the new brass is looking to keep Sam Darnold around. The talent is there and just needs to be redirected in a more positive way. They have plenty more pressing needs then restarting with another QB. Trade down or take your choice of best player available not a QB.

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