East Islip native serves as Jets coach

Q&A with Rob Calabrese

Jordan Stankovich
Posted 9/21/23

East Islip native Rob Calabrese is entering his third season as the New York Jets quarterback coach. Calabrese was a 2008 East Islip High School graduate and captained his varsity team to the 2007 …

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East Islip native serves as Jets coach

Q&A with Rob Calabrese


East Islip native Rob Calabrese is entering his third season as the New York Jets quarterback coach. Calabrese was a 2008 East Islip High School graduate and captained his varsity team to the 2007 Long Island Championship his senior year.

Calabrese was the starting quarterback for three varsity seasons and was titled the Boomer Esiason Award his junior year as Suffolk County’s top quarterback. Calabrese was a quarterback and wide receiver at University of Central Florida from 2008 to 2012, then was the quarterbacks coach at Oviedo High School in Florida for one year.

The East Islip native then coached two years at his alma mater, then came near his hometown and was a coach at Wagner for three years. After serving as the running backs coach as well as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Wagner, Calabrese reached the highest level and joined the NFL.

He spent two seasons as a coach for the Denver Broncos, serving as offensive quality control coach in 2019 and 2020. Then in 2021, he returned close his hometown, again becoming the quarterbacks coach for the New York Jets. In 2023, Calabrese will coach future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers and the Jets in East Rutherford.

“He’s great; having another guy from Long Island in the building is great just to be able to talk to him about certain things other people might not understand, but like I said, he’s a great coach. He knows the game well. He came from the same area as I did, so obviously there’s a sense of pride in that, and just continuing to grow and learn from all those guys is great, and to be able to bring more notoriety to Long Island each and every day is great for the both of us,” said Jeremy Ruckert.

Islip Bulletin: How did your East Islip roots help pave the way for a career in the NFL?

Calabrese: It definitely paved the way. I still do have a great relationship with Sal Ciampi, my high school coach, and he was one of the main reasons why I was able to go play college football to come from a program like East Islip, one of the most respected programs on Long Island. It was huge for me, and I think Sal has helped me out through my coaching career. We still keep in contact. We talk ball but other things as well, so he’s a good friend of mine and I really appreciate coming up through that program and what he’s done for me.

Islip Bulletin: George O’Leary, from Central Islip, was your coach at UFC. Would you talk about George O’leary?

Calabrese: Yeah, so the connection was Sal Ciampi Sr. was good friends with coach O’Leary, who coached at Central Islip at the time. Sal coached at East Islip. So, once I started getting some interest in college, he kind of showed me a little about UCF and got me in contact with coach O’Leary. I was able to be lucky enough to get an offer and go play for coach, but that was a great experience. I have a lot of respect for coach O’Leary; he’s developed me into the man I am today. From going through that program, I was really, really happy and pleased with how my college career went.

Islip Bulletin: You coached in the Senior Bowl last spring before Jeremy Ruckert got drafted, and then he got drafted by the Jets. Can you talk about that?

Calabrese: Yeah, it was cool. It was a great opportunity for our whole staff to be at the Senior Bowl and to get an in-person evaluation with these players. You go through the combine, you get to meet with these guys sporadically, but to have the players there for four days, especially Jeremy, I knew about him from Long Island, but just to get him there for that week, and I was lucky enough to be the coordinator for that game and see him operate within our system. We thought very highly of him and it all comes out that we drafted him, so it worked out.

Islip Bulletin: Do you think Jeremy will get more plays from scrimmage this season?

Calabrese: He’s developing into a player that deserves to be on the field. And I think he showed that the last game of the year against Miami. He had an opportunity, and he did the most with it. He was very physical; he caught the ball well and he did some really good things on the run game, so he’s had an outstanding camp. His athletic ability just shows up, so it’s a competitive room, but I think they all bring different value to the field, and they all deserve to be on the field.

Islip Bulletin: Is there anything in particular that you think Zach Wilson has learned from Aaron Rodgers that can benefit him either currently or in the future of his career?

Calabrese: There’s not just one thing in particular. I think myself included to be in the room with Aaron and the amount of knowledge and experience he has playing in the league this long and just where he’s at in his career with his openness to share that knowledge and make the room better for them from that standpoint. Every day is a huge opportunity for Zach to get better and he’s embraced that. He’s taken that challenge and he’s improved his overall play, his confidence. I think he’s truly enjoying the game now and a big part of it is because Aaron’s in the building. 


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