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Robert Saleh says NY Jets will not change two key positions

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

Despite extensive struggles on offense for multiple weeks, the Jets’ head coach said he will not be switching the quarterback or play-caller

Robert Saleh is choosing to stick with his current offensive structure.

During Monday’s media availability, the New York Jets head coach said he is not considering moving away from Zach Wilson at quarterback or Nathaniel Hackett at play-caller.

Saleh spoke about his rationale for sticking with Wilson and Hackett.

“You could always argue that some type of change, and you’re always going to look at the quarterback first, along with the play caller. When speaking about Zach, I get it. There is a yearning for more or whatever it is, but I feel like he played a good game yesterday,” said Saleh.

“Obviously, he’ll admit that he would want that interception back, but it is hard to make changes just to make changes, just to pacify something. Especially when someone’s not deserving, if he was deserving of it, I got you, let’s change something. That’s really for every position… You’re always trying to look at ways to make sure that everyone is operating at full go. To say that one person is the reason for everyone failing, I don’t think that’s fair.”

The Jets’ head coach said that Wilson has “been playing pretty good” and that it would not be “productive” to put all of the blame on one player. Saleh also mentioned that the offense would be looking into some changes.

“We’re just looking at things schematically, the things that we can do differently, trying to continue to find ways to feature more of the things that our guys are comfortable with… We’re looking at everything, guys,” said Saleh.

“As far as personnel changes, we’re looking at some things, some different personnel changes, which I’m going to keep here with me, but we’re looking across the board to see if we can find a way to generate some offense.”

It is a positive development that the Jets may be looking into making personnel changes on offense.

They could look into transitioning C.J. Uzomah out of the offense in favor of the better blocker and receiver in Jeremy Ruckert. Jason Brownlee could start getting implemented into the offense, offering jump-ball ability that would be useful in the red zone. Israel Abanikanda could spark the Jets’ backfield outside of Breece Hall.

However, the most significant changes to the offense would come from removing Hackett or Wilson from their current roles.

Wilson has not been much more productive than in past years despite Saleh saying he has been playing pretty well, although he has shown slight improvement in some ways. At times, Wilson has been more decisive and shown more of a willingness to use his legs. His accuracy has also taken a step up from his play over the past two years.

As a result, the situation has not been as hopeless for Wilson in 2023, which has elevated the BYU product from all-time bust-level quarterback play to below-average backup quarterback play.

As the Jets’ play-caller, Hackett has arguably been much worse than Wilson.

The 2023 Jets offense is averaging fewer points than the horrific 2020 Adam Gase offense. The 2020 team averaged 15.2 points per game, while the 2023 team is averaging 14.2 points per game.

Hackett refuses to open the passing game for Wilson, even after the quarterback shows he is in a rhythm. The play designs have been questionable in the passing game. In critical situations like the red zone and third down, the play-calling becomes ultra-conservative and opts to play everything safe.

There are a variety of reasons that the Jets have the worst offense in the NFL this season. But in looking at the majority of the issues, they all seem to be rooted in the offense’s foundation.

Wilson is coached to be safe and not turn the ball over. Hackett coaches as if he is scared to have his quarterback make a mistake. It amounts to an offensive philosophy summed up in a comment Saleh made on “Sunday Night Football,” as he stated that the game against the Raiders would be “a race to 20 points.”

Until Saleh shows any commitment to changing the team’s philosophy on the offensive side of the ball, it is hard to take his words as anything but coach-speak.

The Jets have an opportunity to save their season in the coming weeks. Facing the Bills and the Dolphins, they have the talent to win both games and launch themselves back into the playoff conversation.

None of that is possible without offensive changes. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If the Jets opt to roll out the same offense against their two division rivals, the blame for the insane decision will fall at the feet of Saleh.

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8 months ago

I agree with the main points here, but I would add that they should use Dalvin Cook more and Breece Hall less. We’re starting to see just why Cook has the reputation of a premium every down back, and that Hall is kind of an all or nothing back. Remember, when the Detroit Lions had one of the great all or nothing backs of all time, Barry Sanders, they never won a damned thing. They are lucky to have Cook to help a struggling offense and it’s sheer stupidity not to use him more, especially when they have games coming up against teams with explosive offenses like the Bills and the Dolphins and they will need to play ball control to keep them off the field.