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NY Jets HC Robert Saleh sheds light on cornerback alignment

Sauce Gardner, NY Jets, Vikings
Sauce Gardner, New York Jets, Getty Images

The Jets will not have another Darrelle Revis under Saleh

Jets fans are always looking for the new No. 24.

As Darrelle Revis went into the Ring of Honor against the Bears, fans were treated to a glimpse into a cornerback session between Revis and two of the best corners in the NFL, Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed.

In his Friday press conference prior to the Jets’ tilt with the Bills, Robert Saleh was asked whether he foresees having Sauce shadow an opponent’s receiver at any point in the future.

Saleh’s response was unsurprising given his track record as a defensive coordinator, but it was still informative about his mindset.

“We have a little bit. We shadowed the tight end in Week 1, we did a couple of things for him,” Saleh said. “But to be honest with you, there’s different philosophies… it’s funny, I was talking to Revis when he was here: it’s easy to get him aligned, [but] it’s the other seven guys on the back end who have to find a way to not only get aligned, but now they’re in a different position than they’re normally in and they’re having to execute the technique that they’re having to execute.”

“So what is the opportunity cost there? Is it worth trying to create a sideshow where all the other guys are just a little uncomfortable? So there’s different philosophies—and it’s been done, so it’s not like it’s impossible to do, but our philosophy has always been that we’ve got really good football players, and if we just let them play football and get out of their way as coaches in terms of trying to be gurus, they’ll make it work.”

Saleh concluded, “And so we do our best to put them in the best position possible, keep it consistent… and we can spend less time teaching them what they have to do from play to play, we can teach them more about what the offense is about to do. Again, different philosophies, different styles of playing football.”

While the quote may be a bit lengthy, it should be interesting to fans who would like to see Sauce travel with the other team’s No. 1 receiver. Besides the fact that Sauce and Reed have different skillsets that are better matched against different types of receivers, it’s not Sauce that Saleh would be worried about—it’s all the other players on the backend.

This may seem trivial, and as Saleh said, it’s been done before. But to a certain extent, it does make sense not to cause that extra second of thinking in the secondary, particularly with the shakiness at safety.

Sauce had given an indication earlier this week that he and Reed do switch sides more often in the red zone. However, that appears to be more about where the Jets think the offense will go with the football (to the wide side of the field, where they align Sauce) rather than a receiver-cornerback matchup change.

It’s interesting that Saleh brought up Revis, as well. He was asked earlier if Richard Sherman, whom he coached in San Francisco, ever asked to shadow the other team’s No. 1. Saleh responded that although Sherman’s competitive nature made him want to face the best consistently, he understood that it was not the best for the defense as a whole, and he was a team player. (That may somewhat contradict the idea of Sherman as a showboater, but no one can deny his ultra-competitive instinct and desire to win.)

As cagey as Saleh can be at times, particularly when it comes to injuries, his press conferences often include fascinating insights into what goes on behind the scenes.

So don’t expect to see Sauce vs. Diggs as a consistent matchup in the Jets-Bills matchup. D.J. Reed held his own against Diggs last time while Sauce smothered Gabe Davis. The Jets will need a repeat performance, especially from the second half of that game, to have a chance at the upset.

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1 year ago

I totally get what Saleh is saying, and it’s hard to argue against the philosophy.
Maybe when we address the safety deficiencies, and the group has played together for longer, match-ups will be more doable?

It did seem as though on the Jefferson TD in the Vikes game that Sauce and Reed had switched sides, and Reed got caught flat-footed by the “pause move” that Jefferson used.

I would love to see us get Ward from SF, but I fear the financials will be prohibitive.

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 year ago

I like the wording here by Saleh. The back end Needs to play better. Safety’s in particular. Most likely that’s not where he was going with it but everybody has a job to do and weather it’s being singularly focused or Multifacited there is responsability and expected execution.

Last edited 1 year ago by Mike Palazzo