Robert Saleh
Syndication: The Record

Toward the end of last season, there was thought as to whether the Jets would even retain Robert Saleh for a third year. Well, at least we speculated on it. They did have high hopes with a strong defense and Zach Wilson being in his second year. And it all came crashing down amid a six-game implosion that kept the Jets out of the playoffs for a 12th straight season.

Some would say that’s a formula for an obvious coaching change — but here we are, as Saleh enters a make-or-break year with Aaron Rodgers at the helm.

The expectation for the head coach’s potential final year is a deep playoff run and nothing less. Wins, wins, and more wins, which is why next Monday’s Week 1 matchup vs. Buffalo is crucial.

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Starting 0-1 in a 17-game season, against the mighty Bills, wouldn’t be the end of the world. And it obviously wouldn’t be the end of Saleh’s tenure. But this is the most hyped team in the over 60-year history of the franchise. This is the best quarterback the Jets have ever had. Garrett Wilson is a star. Breece Hall is back. Dalvin Cook is here. The defense is great. We’ve heard it all.

The point is: there’s way too much excitement surrounding the Jets for any fan to tolerate them losing to an AFC East rival in Rodgers’ first home game. And an immediate loss would be a bad look on a coaching staff that was possibly on its way out if it weren’t for the dream-come-true of acquiring Rodgers.

Did the organization allowing Hark Knocks in the door inflate this excitement? Certainly. But it was the price the Jets were always going to pay with one of the best quarterbacks in league history entering the building. And the return on investment will dwindle with every loss, including the first one should it come on that Sept. 11 night.

There are fans expecting the most: a Super Bowl appearance and victory, either of which would be the team’s first since 1969. A Week 1 defeat at the hands of arguably the Jets’ biggest division test (and one of the other AFC contenders) could cause the entire city to roll its eyes at Saleh. Who, besides being a part of the regime that traded for Rodgers, really hasn’t done much since his 2021 hire.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.