Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Injuries, Preseason, Game
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

Should Robert Saleh bench all of the New York Jets’ starters for their second preseason game?

Speaking to the media on Saturday after their second joint practice with the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh dropped an interesting nugget about his plans for Monday night’s exhibition contest. Saleh revealed that he is “torn” on whether to play any starters.

So, Jets fans, what do you think? Should Saleh go all-in and bench every starter for this game?

Just to put in my two cents: I think the answer is a clear yes. Saleh needs to take this team’s health seriously and put every first-string player on the bench.

The Jets should already be thanking their lucky stars after what happened with Zach Wilson. New York’s QB1 went down in the first preseason game with a non-contact knee injury that seemed like it would be a season-ending torn ACL in all likelihood.

But for some reason, the football gods smiled upon this franchise and gave it one of its luckiest breaks in recent memory, as Wilson was diagnosed with a bone bruise and a torn meniscus that will keep him out for only 2 to 4 weeks.

Just imagine what the Jets’ season outlook would be if Wilson were out for the year. They would not get to evaluate their second-year franchise quarterback for even a single rep, leaving them completely in the dark regarding where he is in his development entering 2023.

Maybe Joe Flacco would come in and help the team stay relatively competitive in 2022, but Wilson is the key to what happens to this franchise in 2023, 2024, 2025, and beyond. Flacco has zero effect on the team’s odds of winning a Super Bowl in those seasons. Wilson means everything to where the Jets will be in one year, two years, three years, and so forth.

How would it have changed the Jets’ long-term timeline if Wilson missed the whole year? If Wilson struggled in 2023, would the Jets pull the plug or treat it like it was his second NFL season? Would the entire regime get another year of slack to accommodate Wilson’s status?

In many ways, the Jets’ entire rebuild timeline would essentially be pushed back a year. It would be a nightmare for the team’s long-term future.

All of this so he can play some meaningless reps in an early August preseason game against the Eagles.

I mean, come on. If that scare isn’t enough to make it clear that playing your starters in the preseason isn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.

The Jets just completed two joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons and are still scheduled to partake in joint practices with the New York Giants next week. That’s plenty of inter-squad work right there. What do starters get out of playing in a preseason game that they can’t get in a joint practice?

Preseason games are nice to help players get their feet wet and to evaluate roster-bubble players who are battling for a spot. I get that.

But for players who are a lock to make the team and are poised to play a crucial role, the value of “getting their feet wet” isn’t even in the same universe as the value of keeping them healthy. There is absolutely nothing of tangible value that can be gained from playing starters in the preseason, and yet, each and every rep puts a player at risk of suffering an injury that can cost him games that do matter.

It is not worth risking starters’ health for preseason reps. It’s just not. Period.

Perhaps this is a little bit of a knee-jerk reaction because of what just happened with Wilson, but in my opinion, I think it’s justified to have a knee-jerk reaction after you go through what the Jets just did. They practically stared death in the face (in a football sense). After an experience like that, who wouldn’t make major changes to their approach?

Injuries largely come down to luck. That’s the unfortunate reality. But there are a select few things that teams can do to decrease their odds of losing important players, and minimizing preseason reps is among the biggest ones. It’s imperative to take full advantage of this rare iota of control.

I would implore Robert Saleh to bench his starters on Monday, especially since it seems he is already on the fence about doing it. That should make it a no-brainer to just go ahead and pull the trigger.

Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here

Download Jet X Mobile on the App Store and Google Play.

Want More NY Jets News & Jets X-Factor Content?

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Google/Android (Google Play) device.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed to stay up to date with the New York Jets.

Follow us on Twitter @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Join the official Jets Discord community to connect with likeminded fans.

Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
8 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago

There was a time when I would be steadfast they should play, now with the joint practices I don’t think it’s necessary. What’s the point if there are some guys out and some guys in? Last week the D was terrible, they were missing 5 key players, what does that tell us? Zach wasn’t good, the run game was blah, 2 key offensive lineman didn’t play, what does that tell us? If they are playing because it’s important they get reps/experience in pre season then they all play or none play.

I don’t think playing 2 or 3 series does much, games have ups and downs, putting a player in a “set amount of time” leaves the door open for: he throws a pick on the only series he was supposed to play, they he’s back in, making less that great decisions about dodging a defender and hurting his knee.

A lot of rambling but don’t play them.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Exactly. Don’t play them.

DFargas
DFargas
1 month ago

One of the problems with preseason is you have a lot of marginal guys with shaky skills who are getting desperate to make the team and playing wild. Bad combination! The Jets had a very costly injury to a starter one year (sorry, I can’t remember the player’s names) because a marginal guy on the Jets was playing like a maniac and made some unnecessary, clumsy move after the play was over, badly injuring his own team-mate. Everyone wanted to strangle that guy; needless to say, he didn’t make the team.

Jim G
Jim G
1 month ago

Wilson playing in the pre-season probably did the Jets a favor. It is important to recognize that his injury was non-contact, which means it would have happened at some point. Whether it occurred in a practice or pre-season game makes no difference. If Wilson’s non-contact injury happened on Sept. 11, the Jets would really be sunk for the 2022 season.

Psi
Psi
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

It was an instructively immature play by Zach, that was alarming to me about his lack of awareness and impulse control in a meaningless situation. My guess is he was trying to make up for the rookie-like pick on his first series of the year. Hope he learns from it, and gains perspective watching Flacco operate what can be a very skilled offense.

Psi
Psi
1 month ago

Totally and completely agree with you on this one. Starters lost to injury during preseason games is beyond absurd.