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Robert Saleh won’t call defensive plays with the Jets

Mike Florio and Peter King analyze the New York Jets’ decision to hire Robert Saleh as the team’s new head coach and why his charismatic coaching style could be exactly what the Jets need.

Robert Saleh was the fiery defensive coordinator of the 49ers sideline for years, calling effective plays that helped the unit reach Super Bowl LIV last year.

He’ll probably still be fiery as he roams the sidelines as the Jets head coach in 2021. But he won’t be calling defensive plays any longer, passing those duties off to coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

“I’ve got the utmost respect and confidence in Jeff Ulbrich to be able to do that,” Saleh said in his introductory press conference. “This is an organization that has to work locked in arms and work together. And to ensure that the messaging and the way that we want things done all the way across the board is there and maintaining that connection throughout — whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, business of football — somehow, some way, everyone’s got to find their connection to the player with the mindset that we’re going to get these guys better every single day. And to be able to have that focus and ensure that the entire organization is moving in the direction that we want, I won’t be calling plays.”

Ulbrich served as the Falcons’ interim defensive coordinator once the club fired Dan Quinn in October. He was perviously the linebackers coach since 2015, adding the title assistant head coach in 2020.

Saleh and Ulbrich were on the same Seahawks’ staff in 2011. Ulbrich was an assistant special teams coach and Saleh a defensive quality control coach.