Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins has signed with the Jets. New Jets coach Robert Saleh had a lot to do with that.
“It obviously starts with the head guy, with Coach Saleh,” Rankins told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “Him coming from San Fran and I know guys that played out there, played for him, and were able to tell me the type of leader of men that he truly is. So when he called me and expressed his interest and how much he wanted me to be a part of this and the vision he has for me and Quinnen [Williams] inside and Carl [Lawson] out on the edge, it got me fired up. It made me want to be part of something special.”
Saleh became a respected defensive coordinator with the 49ers, and it’s important for him to have the right players to help implement his vision for what the Jets will be. Plenty of great players have played for him, and plenty of great players know of him. It allows Saleh to target the players he wants and to pursue them.
Rankins, a first-round pick of the Saints in 2016, was playing very well in 2018. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the playoffs, and he hasn’t really been the same since then.
“I think I’m back to feeling like every bit of what I felt like in 2018, which is obviously my best year, where I felt like I was coming into my own as a premier D-tackle in this league,” Rankins said. “The last two years have been frustrating because, me as a player, I’m going to battle through anything and everything I can to be out there, fighting with my teammates. And at times, obviously, from the outside perspective, they don’t see all the things I’m battling through and they just see me as not being productive or not being explosive or not being the guy I was from before, not knowing everything I’m dealing with.
“So it is tough, you know, it’s tough mentally, tough physically, but weak-minded and weak individuals don’t play this game. So I’ve been able to battle through it and, and continue to work and continue to trust in my own process, continue to trust in my own abilities and, and continue to trust that there’s going to be a point where I feel like myself again. And once I hit that point, it’s time to shut all the noise off.”
If that happens in 2021, that will be great news for a Jets team that is trying to become what it hasn’t been in a long time.