Robert Saleh has had easier weeks.
This is the life of an NFL head coach: Crisis management is the first thing you must master.
Saleh didn’t score a touchdown, complete a pass or make a tackle in the Jets’ 31-10 win over the Bears on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. But he masterfully set the table for the critical win that moved the Jets to 7-4 and allowed them to remain in contention in the AFC East.
For years, we’ve watched weeks like this past week go sideways on the Jets. Saleh navigated some tricky waters and kept the season afloat — and now the Jets are sailing ahead with some momentum.
The Jets will be playing meaningful games in December in large part because of the job Saleh has done this season.
They won Sunday’s game going away against an injury-riddled Bears team in part thanks to Saleh and his decision to bench 2021 No. 2 overall draft pick Zach Wilson in favor of Mike White.
The Jets were staggering after last Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Patriots. They returned from New England a team with a damaged psyche, the defense let down by an anemic offense — particularly Wilson, the second-year quarterback who’s been even shorter on maturity than on touchdown passes.
When Wilson insulted at least half of the team’s locker room after he casually told reporters he didn’t think he owed the defense an apology after producing just two yards of net offense in the second half of the New England game, Saleh was sitting on a potential powder keg.
These things are highly delicate.
But because one of his strengths as a head coach is being a terrific communicator, Saleh pushed the right buttons all week, beginning with making the high-profile decision to replace Wilson with White at quarterback.
Wilson did right by himself and the team when he addressed the players in the locker room on Wednesday to apologize for his postgame comments and to let them know that, starter or not, he’s in full support of White and everyone else in the room.
Saleh kept the players informed the entire way. There was no innuendo. No whispers. Just clarity.
Saleh turned a week of distraction into the product you saw on the field Sunday.
“A week like that can be stressful,’’ Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley, a team captain, told The Post. “That depends on how it’s handled internally. I really feel Coach Saleh does a great job of keeping us informed. Anything that’s going on, he lets us know first.
“We’ve had some incidents where players felt certain ways,” Mosley continued, which can be read as a reference to when disgruntled wide receiver Elijah Moore requested a trade, “and he talks to those players individually and he talks to leadership. He does a really good job of keeping everybody informed so there’s no side talk going on.
“Everyone knows exactly what the issue is, and everyone knows exactly what the solution to the issue is going to be. The way we handled it in the locker room, that doesn’t allow it to get negative at all. It keeps us positive, keeps us focused on our jobs.’’
The Jets did their jobs pretty well Sunday.
“We had to make a [quarterback] change for the right reasons, and it paid off this week,’’ Mosley said. “It could easily have gone the opposite way.’’
If you’ve paid any attention to the Jets over the past three or so decades, it’s gone the “opposite way’’ more often than not.
“This business doesn’t have built-in time to be distracted by anything,’’ Jets receiver Braxton Berrios told The Post. “Sadly, [the quarterback change] is part of this game, and once that decision was made, everyone was all-in on what the next steps were and we got back to game-planning. Everybody did a great job coming out here and executing.’’
Veteran left guard Laken Tomlinson said once the quarterback decision was made by Saleh, “You’ve just got to roll with it.’’
“I thought guys throughout the week handled themselves really well, and we showed today out there on the field,’’ Tomlinson said. “[Saleh] is always open. He brought us in and told us everything before anybody else. He’s very open and very honest with the players. I really appreciate the way he handled that situation.’’
Jets veteran left tackle Duane Brown said weeks like this past week “can be difficult, but the way everything was presented was done the right way. There were conversations had amongst the team. Preparation throughout the week was good. Everyone was locked in and looking forward to getting the bad taste out of our mouths from last week. It was a great week.
“[Saleh] handled it well. The position he’s in, the things he’s had to face in his two years here with the ups and downs, he’s handled things with class and grace. It’s an unforgiving league, and tough decisions have to be made at times. We got his back at all times. We trust the decisions that he has to make.’’
Rookie receiver Garrett Wilson was very vocal after the loss in New England, expressing frustration with the offense, saying the way it performed against the Patriots was unacceptable and that changes needed to be made in how they went about things.
Saleh, instead of chastising a rookie for speaking out of place, said he agreed with what Wilson had to say.
“Saleh does a great job communicating with all of us, and I talked to him,’’ Wilson said after catching five passes for 95 yards and scoring two TDs. “Obviously, there were some things I probably shouldn’t have said and wish I could have back, but I’m emotional and we had just not played up to our standard. I just wanted to see a change, and that’s what came out of me.
“[Saleh] understood that. It feels good to have someone who has your back.’’
Saleh having his players’ backs is one of his great strengths as a leader. He also deflected any praise sent his way for his spotless handling of a messy week and directed it toward his players.
“We have an unbelievable locker room, unbelievable coaching staff,’’ Saleh said. “Nobody flinched. Took care of their business. I thought our locker room did a great job and ignored all of the noise. The big thing we talk about is just focus on your individual moment. Just take care of your job. Do your job. Do your job to the best of your ability.’’
Saleh didn’t account for any points on the scoreboard Sunday, but no one in the Jets organization did his job better than he did this week.