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Texan’s Rookie Success Magnifies Jet’s Massive Failure this Season 

From Shared Defensive Success to Diverging Paths: Saleh and Ryans’ Journeys

The tale of two head coaches, Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans, is a captivating narrative of ‘what-ifs’. The two, of similar professional backgrounds, maneuver their journeys as head coaches of NFL teams after serving as defensive coordinators for the San Francisco 49ers.

A twist of fate saw Ryans take over Saleh’s position at the 49ers, following the latter’s move to coach the Jets in 2021. Tracing back to 2017, Saleh was instrumental in introducing Ryans to this coaching realm, starting his initial stint with the 49ers on a low note. The intertwined histories of these two pros, however, diverge significantly in the present, owing to contrasting decision-making strategies with their respective teams’ No. 2-overall picks in the NFL draft.

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Saleh embarked on his journey with the Jets, entrusted with the No. 2 choice in the draft, following a less-than-ideal 2-14 season. The Jets’ decision to pick Zach Wilson has since deeply influenced Saleh’s trajectory with the team.

It was reported by The Athletic that Saleh preferred Wilson to ascend to the position of main quarterback, but Wilson harbored fears of potential injury, leading to hesitation in accepting. Saleh maintains that Wilson never expressed such reluctance directly to him, rather conveyed a willingness to start; yet, one can’t deny that there might exist some validity in this report.

This episode merely adds to the escalating tension in the Wilson-Jets relationship, which has been on shaky ground for over a year. Their saga is a stark contrast to that of Ryans and his chargé d’affaires, C.J. Stroud, who was drafted by the Texans as No. 2 overall in April. Stroud’s exceptional rookie season, distinguished by his impressive stats (3,540 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five interceptions in his first dozen games), positions him unequivocally in a different league.

Under the auspices of Ryans, the reinvigorated Texans flaunt a 7-5 season and are gearing up for a playoff tilt, while the Jets’ 4-8 record reflects a team grappling with the fundamentals of scoring a touchdown. This disparity underscores a widely recognized truth — the impact of the quarterback on a team’s success can’t be overstated. It is a make-or-break position for the coach as selecting a deserving candidate can lead to unmitigated triumph, while a poor choice could send the coach packing.

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There isn’t enough evidence yet to definitively say whether Ryan is a superior coach to Saleh. But as the narrative presently unfolds, it seems that Nick Caserio’s choice of quarterback for the Texans is paying off, while Joe Douglas’ pick for the Jets leads to more questions than answers.

Indeed, a coach’s successful tenure often hinges significantly on having a dependable quarterback. Bill Belichick, even with his excellent reputation, isn’t quite the same without Tom Brady. Meanwhile, the Bengals flounder without an injury-free Joe Burrow, and the Giants can barely scrape together some victories with Tommy DeVito at the helm.

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It’s essential to remember that the quarterback selection is a key determinant of a team’s journey. The decision to select Wilson seems to have backfired on the Jets for three consecutive years. An attempt to pivot was made with a trade for Aaron Rodgers, yet Wilson was maintained as a backup quarterback. But the Rodgers’ season was cut tragically short by a ruptured Achilles tendon four plays in, forcing the Jets to revert to Wilson.

The tormented saga of Wilson as the No. 2-overall pick continues to be a thorn in the side of die-hard Jets fans. It becomes nearly impossible not to link his performance (or lack thereof) with the decision-making acumen of Douglas and Saleh. The recent benching of Wilson saw his replacements, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian, faring worse, making it critically challenging for Saleh to decide the next course of action.

This quarterback conundrum has only amplified the Jets’ losing streak. With Saleh touting a less than enviable 15-31 record in his three-year tenure as head coach, the successes of a championship-caliber defense are overshadowed by struggles on the offensive side of the ball. However, it’s crucial to note that Saleh was a part of the initial decision-making process that led to Wilson’s draft and his reinstatement this season.

Before rushing to conclusions about Saleh’s coaching abilities, it would be prudent to assess his performance with a competent quarterback at the helm. Opportunities for such an evaluation might present themselves if Saleh survives the losing streak to return for the next year with a fit Rodgers.

Conversely, Ryans’ coaching prowess is currently under a favorable light, largely due to Stroud’s lauded performances. Stroud’s presence provides an unmistakable advantage, likened by some to a head start in a race. The subsequent proof of his genius could potentially be attributed to his fortunate quarterback selection.

On the field, the striking contrast between the two head coaches who once shared a defensive success at the 49ers will be clear. Ryans, blessed with good fortunes of having a competent quarterback, versus Saleh, struggling without one. The aftermath of this matchup might leave an indelible impression on their coaching legacies.

How these defensive gurus from the San Francisco 49ers acre, each commanding the helm as head coaches, bears witness to their journeys. Riddled with fortune, skill, choice, and in some instances, sheer chance, this narrative is more than a tale of two head coaches. It’s a resonant story of the influence and significance of the right decisions, especially when it relates to crucial team members like quarterbacks.

As the drama unfolds on the turf of MetLife Stadium this Sunday, the divergent paths of Saleh and Ryans will be on full display. It underscores the old adage: with leadership, whether in coaching or quarterbacking, making the right decisions often spells the difference between success and failure.


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