Saleh’s Quote Nails It

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A big surprise

right before the game was defensive end Ronnie Blair being announced as inactive.

This was a blow to the Jets. He’s really come on the last two games, and is one of their more fundamentally sound defensive linemen. The Jets had issues today setting the edge against the run. Perhaps Blair could have helped in this area.

Blair was scratched due to an illness that popped up this weekend. The same with running back Austin Walter . . .

Robert Saleh gets criticized by some for being too Pollyanna in his press conference regarding his struggling team.

However, he said something at the end of his press conference following the team’s loss to the Saints, that was kind of mixed into a long answer, so it might have been lost in the shuffle, but to me, it was one of the most important recent quotes from the coach, and shed some light on the thinking in the building about what is going on right now with his last place team.

“The path is crystal clear on where this organization needs to go and the things that we need to address – as coaches, players, all the way top down. It’s very, very clear,” said Saleh.

This quote says an awful lot.

A lot of people think Saleh is such a glass-half-full optimist, that he perhaps is glossing over some of the problems with his team, acting like all these young players just need time to get better and then everything will be fine.

But remember, what the coach says publicly, or what he might say in meetings with GM Joe Douglas, could be two different things. This clearly is a coach who doesn’t want to call out players publicly.

But that quote, at least too me, makes it clear he’s aware of the major issues they have, and knows they need to be fixed.

However the issue right now, is the roster is pretty much set, and the answers aren’t going to be delivered via FedEx tomorrow. The fixes are going to have to come in the off-season.

This includes Zach Wilson getting a full off-season to work on the issues with his mechanics that are leading to so much inaccuracy (like the bubble screen he bounced to Braxton Berrios), or the replacements for certain defensive players who are devoid of ideal instincts often placing them out of position. This stuff can’t be fixed until the off-season.

If I’m Douglas, I’m picking defensive players with three or four of the team’s four picks in the first two rounds, and not only must they be very talented players, but have top-shelf instincts. I’m telling you, the instincts of certain players is leading to a lot of what you are seeing on defense . . .

Speaking of instincts, one player who I think has good ones is safety Elijah Riley, signed off the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad on November 9.

On the Saints’ first series he had a couple of very nice, instinctive plays – on a third-and-two, he stopped a Taysom Hill read-option off left tackle after a gain of one. Then, a few plays later, on second-and-11, he read a pass to Alvin Kamara out of the backfield perfectly, and stopped the running back in his tracks after a four-yard gain. He finished with 10 tackles.

The former Army Cadet is the kind of instinctive defender the Jets could use more of moving forward . . .

The Jets new kicker Eddy Piñeiro (pictured above) was 3-for-3 on field goals today, and you could tell he knew exactly how to handle the challenging wind from his time kicking for the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field, going with a low trajectory on all three kicks.

December 12, 2021

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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