Robert Saleh [608x342]
Robert Saleh [608x342] (Credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. CE-O coach: Coach Robert Saleh received a shoutout the other day from Aaron Rodgers, who remarked, "I think Robert, to his credit, is taking a deeper role in the offense."

No doubt, this fueled an outside narrative that Saleh, acting with urgency in a make-or-break season, is looking over the shoulder of Nathaniel Hackett because the perception is that he has lost faith in his embattled offensive coordinator. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a head coach got more involved on the weakest side of the ball in an attempt to save his own butt.

Rodgers described Saleh's involvement this way: "As a defensive coach, he's been in that room a lot, but he's been kind of sitting over to the left of me a good amount of the offseason so far. So we appreciate his influence. He's brought some really good ideas to the table."

Let's clear up a few things: Saleh isn't spending all his time with the offense -- he's still involved with the defense and special teams. Yes, he's having more direct dialogue in the classroom with offensive players than last offseason, but it's what you'd expect from a fourth-year coach who is evolving on the job.

There's another reason. Look at Saleh's background; he came from the San Francisco 49ers, where he became fluent in the Kyle Shanahan version of the West Coast offense -- a regimented system that limits a quarterback's flexibility at the line of scrimmage. The Jets used it in 2021 and 2022, but they flipped their approach with the arrival of Rodgers, who thrives on being in control.

Last year, Saleh let Rodgers and Hackett do their thing, installing the system and teaching it to everyone. Now that he has been around Rodgers for a year and is well-versed in his offense, Saleh feels comfortable making useful suggestions, mainly from a defensive-minded perspective. If Rodgers wants to run a certain play against, say, a Cover-3 defense, he can hear the pros and cons from Saleh. It's a healthy give-and-take.

"He's added a lot of interesting stuff that you'll see throughout the OTAs and training camp, which I think would be pretty cool for us," Rodgers said.

Unbeknownst to many, Saleh actually got more involved in the offense over the final six games last season. By then, they already had started to move away from the Rodgers system, which didn't suit Zach Wilson. In retrospect, the Jets will say they waited too long to make that change. As it turned out, they showed some signs of life over the final six games, averaging 16.5 points -- about three points better than the first 11.

Saleh said the goal this season is to make the offense "injury-proof," just in case the unthinkable happens again -- another Rodgers injury. They'd better get it right because they're probably out of mulligans.

2. Busy summer: The Jets are planning to have joint practices with the three teams they face in the preseason -- the Washington Commanders (home), Carolina Panthers (away) and New York Giants (home). Joint practices have become the norm in the NFL, especially with teams shying away from playing their starters in preseason games.

3. QB/scout: Rodgers, in an interview with the Official Jets Podcast, called Malachi Corley "my favorite receiver in the draft." That comment will raise eyebrows, considering Corley was the 12th wide receiver drafted, taken at the top of the third round.

"Now, he might not have been the best on paper in the draft," Rodgers went on to say, "but I really felt like he was going to fit in with what we're trying to do -- his mindset, his ferocity."

No doubt, the front office was aware of Rodgers' affinity for Corley, which might explain why it traded up to get him.

4. Rarity for Rodgers: The Jets open the season with three games in a 10-day span, something Rodgers has experienced only once in 16 seasons as a starting quarterback. It happened way back in 2011 with the Green Bay Packers. Clearly, the physical grind didn't affect him as a 27-year-old, as he passed for nine touchdowns and only one interception in three victories.

But now he's 40, coming off a major injury and a long layoff. He acknowledged it will be harder for his body to bounce back now that he's a lot older, concluding that the three-game stretch "definitely will be a good challenge for us."

Week 3 is a Thursday night game against the New England Patriots. In case you're wondering, Rodgers has dominated in Thursday night games on short weeks -- an 8-4 record, with 29 touchdowns, three interceptions.

5. Rest can wait: Teams have the option of taking their bye week immediately after games in London, but the Jets opted to pass on the bye. Why? Mostly, they preferred a late bye (Week 12). They also felt they'd have enough rest after returning from London, where they face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5. Their next game is a Monday night home contest against the Buffalo Bills.

6. Canton corner: Rodgers and left tackle Tyron Smith have lockers next to each other. Talk about an upscale neighborhood. You're talking about 32 seasons of combined experience and 18 Pro Bowls. Someday, they figure to be reunited in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Rodgers said he has a front-row seat to witnessing how Smith and fellow tackle Morgan Moses have been coaching up young tackles Olu Fashanu and Carter Warren.

"Pretty cool," Rodgers said.

7. Safety in numbers: The most competitive position group is safety, with incumbent Tony Adams, Chuck Clark and Ashtyn Davis battling for two starting spots. Right now, Adams and Clark have the edge. Clark, a longtime starter with the Baltimore Ravens, is back to full participation after missing last season because of knee surgery.

Add another player to the mix: Isaiah Oliver, a veteran cornerback/nickelback, was moved to safety this week.

"The entire safety room is open," Saleh said.

8. Shrinking end: The Jets are giving up a lot of size at defensive end, going from John Franklin-Myers (288 pounds) to Haason Reddick (240). That could be a problem for the run defense. Reddick is "a little undersized," said defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who believes he compensates with leverage and hand placement. Worth noting: The Philadelphia Eagles were better against the run when Reddick wasn't on the field (3.8 yards per rush) than when he was on it (4.5).

9. Say, Watts: Maybe the most intriguing undrafted rookie on the roster is defensive end Eric Watts out of UConn. He certainly looks the part -- a sculpted 277 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame. He ran well at the scouting combine (4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash), fueling speculation that he could be a late-round pick despite modest production in college (9.5 sacks in four seasons).

Watts was in demand as a free agent, eventually receiving a $225,000 guarantee from the Jets -- highest among their UDFAs. That amount is equivalent to what a high sixth-round pick would receive. Watts is known for his competitive nature. If he can put it all together, maybe he can surprise.

10. The last word: "I feel like we can win the championship -- Super Bowl. We got the guys, we got the coaches. We got everything we need -- the training staff, everything -- that it will take for us to be able to get where we want to get to." - cornerback Sauce Gardner on the team's expectations.