Robert Saleh, New York Jets
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

Some pushing and shoving between teammates is normal, but multiple days of punching leave concern about the team’s focus

Another day, another New York Jets training camp fight.

It’s been a testy August for the Green and White, as players get tangled up on a daily basis.

Though some scuffling is normal, the punching that has accompanied it is of some concern.

Head coach Robert Saleh instituted one rule during training camp: no punching. That seems rather like a recommendation rather than a rule after every thrower of punches was allowed to continue in practice.

Coach Saleh is known as a players’ coach. He’s good at spinning circumstances to make his guys look good, sometimes to the point of subverting reality. Regarding the fights, Saleh told the media last week that it’s like “brothers fighting with each other.”

Earlier in camp, when invoking the “no punching” rule, Saleh commented, “They’re going to push, they’re going to shove, it’s going to happen. They’re sick of each other. I’m sick of hearing the same calls from the coordinators, and I think everyone is sick of each other at this point in camp.”

Still, as the fights pile up and tempers flare hotter, it’s getting a little much for the Jets. On Sunday, Carl Lawson got into it with offensive lineman Grant Hermanns. Garrett Wilson went at Nathan Shepherd, a mismatch if you’ve ever seen one. Wilson was angry that Shepherd ripped the ball out of his hands after the whistle.

Today, after yet another scuffle involving Hermanns, Saleh gathered his guys and had some words for the team. Carl Lawson also spoke.

“Protect the team,” Saleh said. “It’s getting very, very competitive. And it’s not just from the fighting standpoint. We try not twerking each other, we try not slinging each other to the ground. We try to keep everybody up. Just too many bodies on the ground [Monday], which is not healthy for people standing around the pile. So it was just a quick little reminder and we’ll do it again in the team meeting [Tuesday] and have a good day.”

For all the talk of composure, it remains to be seen if the Jets players will actually listen to their head coach. Everyone likes Saleh around the league, and he is spoken of with respect. But does he have what it takes to instill discipline among a group of competitive and unruly young men?

In the first game of the preseason, we saw the Jets’ aggressiveness come back to bite them. Linebacker Quincy Williams was flagged for a hit out of bounds on quarterback Jalen Hurts, extending the Eagles’ opening drive and allowing them to eventually get into the end zone. That undisciplined play carries over from last season.

However, Williams was out there on the field the next snap after his mental error. For many of the more old-school NFL head coaches, that would have been a benchable offense. Not so for Saleh, apparently.

Being a players’ coach is largely necessary in today’s league. Few can run with the Belichick iron-fist style that came from Bill Parcells. That’s part of the reason that so many Belichick disciples have failed as NFL head coaches.

But with that player-first approach needs to come a hard limit. There must be accountability and discipline. For a team still finding itself, unforced errors will devastate any opportunity for competitive play on the field.

This may not be a big deal at all. Training camp fights have broken out across the league. Kyle Shanahan is dealing with the same thing back in San Francisco. It could all be forgotten by Week 1.

Or it could be part of a larger trend that Saleh wants to nip in the bud. It’s a proof-of-concept year for the Jets’ lead man. The Jets must hope that his rallying cry today will bring the team back to focusing on the collective goal.

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Rivka Boord has followed the Jets since the age of five. She is known locally for her in-depth knowledge of football. She hopes to empower young women to follow their dreams and join the sports conversation. Boord's background in analytics infuses her articles with unique insights into the state of the Jets' franchise and the NFL as a whole.
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gpapanj
gpapanj
1 month ago

Great article, Rivka. I agree with you and all the comments here. The discipline needs to be there for the team to win.

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 month ago

Well said Rivka! I was reading the transcript from the message Garrett Wilson’s dad read to him at the draft. Im paraphrasing here but part of brilliant message said, being respected is more important than being liked.

I wonder if Salah gets that?

ncjetsfan
ncjetsfan
1 month ago

Excellent article, Rivka! I agree 100%. I despise HCs who don’t demand discipline from their players. I’ve seen it hurt the Jets too many times. That’s the main reason I couldn’t stand Rex Ryan. He had no personal discipline, and his teams were totally undisciplined. If Saleh doesn’t nip this kind of crap in the bud and they continue having discipline problems in games, I will want him gone.

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Penalties are such a great indicator of the competence of a coaching staff. It speaks to discipline and more importantly to focus. If a team isn’t focused enough to stay away from stupid penalties how focused could they be on their assignments? Fair or not it’s up to the coaches to teach that. Or they won’t be coaches for long.

mlesko73
mlesko73
1 month ago

Spot on
We want aggression w/o the lack of forethought. Situations dictate the adjustment of behaviors.
You mention Belichick, I have seen video of him teaching his O Line to flinch when in the shadow of
their own goal line. The rationale being that if they call a penalty on O its “half the distance”, almost nothing, but if
the D jumps it’s a full five yards.
We need to play smart. Not retaliating can often get us a free 15 yds etc.
Accountability is essential.

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Amen

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 month ago
Reply to  mlesko73

Great example! I haven’t seen that one but I’ve seen plenty of other videos of Belicheck teaching. Including him teaching the CBs the exact footwork for the play they ended up making to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl.

I really like Salah, but you have to wonder would this group be better off with an experienced staff?

ncjetsfan
ncjetsfan
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Hausig

Excellent point! As we all know, our team is heavily weighted with rookies and young players with little experience in the NFL. In an ideal world, a quality veteran CS would most likely have been better and achieved better results, but the problem is that there was no such HC and CS available when Saleh was hired. None of the veteran HCs available were worth a flip, and the best candidates were all going to be first-time HCs.