Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Curious answer from Saleh 10.31.22

After the Jets’ loss to New England, Jets head coach Robert Saleh was asked why dismayed wide receiver Elijah Moore didn’t play more.

“With Corey (Davis) being out, just a chance to get Garrett (Wilson) on the field a little more,” Saleh said.

Some were perplexed by this answer because Wilson was already playing a lot.

Saleh said Moore’s recent trade request had nothing to do with his diminished playing time.

Moore complained recently about his role in the offense, leading to the player being deactivated for the Jets game in Denver.

After the New England game, Moore explained one reason he’s up upset with his lack of touches is “I’ve got a family to feed, too.” Clearly, he feels not getting the ball will hurt him in his next contract. He’s under contract for the next two-and-half years with the Jets.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.


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Good question in Saleh’s post-game – something to ponder 10.30.22

This is something the Jets’ brass needs to ponder with a 5-3 team:

Q: How do you balance Zach Wilson’s development with a team that appears ready to win now?

Robert Saleh: We just have to rally around him. Coaches, we need to find a way to make it not necessarily simpler, but just help him continue to progress and evolve. He is still a young man. Playing quarterback in this league is not easy. Collectively, we have to do better for him. He just has to be able to do what he did the last four weeks in terms of just doing the simple stuff and not putting too much pressure on himself to do more than he needs to. We will continue to work with him. We have all the faith in the world in him. He just has to continue to find ways to continue to get better.

Why does it have to take an injury? 10.30.22

If you are running a meritocracy, it shouldn’t just take an injury for a line-up change to be made.

Bill Belichick does it all the time, like with right tackle Isaiah Wynn on Sunday who was replaced by Marcus Cannon.

The Jets have decided to make Mike White the #2 QB moving forward ahead of Joe Flacco.


“Allow him the opportunity to practice and get his mind right preparing as the second quarterback,” Robert Saleh said. “Although you would like to think that preparing for the third quarterback, you would prepare exactly the same…there is a human element, so just allow him the opportunity to prepare as if he is the next man up.”

But what about him getting a chance to play?

“If Zach ever gets hurt, we are giving Mike White the opportunity to go in there,” Saleh said.

Why would an injury be the only way for him to play? What if Zach Wilson continues to struggle?

In a good football culture, you don’t just keep rolling with a player who is struggling. You owe it to the other players to try somebody else.

Unless you are driven by confirmation bias, and you need to justify your draft picks. Not saying the Jets brass is driven by confirmation bias, but if they keep this up, some might make that argument.


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A possible reason why Jets elevated QB Streveler 10.29.22

The Jets made a surprising move on Saturday, promoting QB Chris Streveler to the active roster from their practice squad.

It seemed like a strange move to some, since they already have three quarterbacks on their roster – Zach Wilson, Mike White and Joe Flacco.

There has been speculation that a reason the Jets promoted Streveler was to play on special teams, something he did in the summer.

However, it could go deeper than that.

The New England Patriots’ defense has not been good this year against speedy running quarterbacks.

Just go back and look at their losses to Baltimore/QB Lamar Jackson and Chicago/Justin Fields.

Their defense, which lacks great speed, struggled mightily in these games.

Wilson can run, and has nifty feet to avoid the rush, but he’s not necessarily a read-option QB, who you want to call designed runs for, as Baltimore does with Jackson and Chicago with Fields.

Streveler has really good speed, running a 4.51 forty when he came out of South Dakota. Not only does he have good wheels, but he’s also a punishing scrambler, who can break tackles with his physical style of running.

So after watching a lot of tape of those New England losses to Chicago and Baltimore, maybe the Jets decided to put in some read-option QB running plays for Streveler, to compliment Wilson and their passing game.

Just a thought.


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Denver’s defense is good, but you need to keep this in mind . . . 10.25.22

Was Denver’s defense the reason for the Jets’ passing game struggles?

In the Jets’ win over the Broncos, the Jets threw for 121 yards and were 3-14 on third down.

Was it the Denver defense that led to these underwhelming numbers?

There is no doubt they are good, and their defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero, is doing a terrific job. However, it should be pointed out, they played the Jets without prized free-agent addition, Randy Gregory, at defensive end,  starting inside linebacker Josey Jewell and starting cornerback Ronald Darby, due to injuries. So they had key players missing on all three levels.

They had a rookie fourth-round pick, Damarri Mathis, starting at cornerback for Darby. Look, we all know how good the other starting corner is, Patrick Surtain, but they couldn’t have done more against Mathis, who is learning on the job?

Maybe the Broncos’ defense contributed to the struggles of the Jets’ passing attack, but you’ve to figure out a way to do more in a results-based business.

We shouldn’t grade NFL teams on a curve.


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Jets have a lot of insurance at the position 10.24.22

It’s a brutal injury, no doubt, but they did buy some insurance.

The Alijah Vera-Tucker injury is rough for the Jets, but Joe Douglas recently signed two veteran right tackles with a lot of starting experience – Mike Remmers and Cedric Ogbuehi. Obviously, they aren’t AVT, but not bad insurance policies.

Also, George Fant is eligible to come off injured reserve shortly. If his knee is stable, he can also play a right tackle, a position he’s played before with both the Jets and Seattle.

And rookie right tackle Max Mitchell should be able to return soon from a knee injury suffered recently that isn’t considered season-ending.

So while the news that broke today about Vera-Tucker suffering a season-ending arm injury is a tough blow for the Jets, they have some options at the spot. The cupboard isn’t empty.


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The simple answer to Moore’s issue 10.18.22

Elijah Moore was triggered when a reporter pointed out he had no catches against Green Bay.

“If I say what I really wanna say, I’ll be the selfish guy…we winning,” Moore tweeted. “Grateful! Huge blessing! All I ever wanted. [Bitter] sweet for me, but I’ll be solid. So I’ll just stay quiet. Just know I don’t understand either.”

It’s actually not hard to understand.

The Jets need more completions in their passing offense. Like against Pittsburgh, they were 18-36 passing. So only 50 percent of the passes were completed.

Against Miami, they had 14 completions, and then they went 10-18 passing for 110 yards against Green Bay, with 41 yards coming on a pass to Corey Davis. The rest of the passing stats were nine completions for 69 yards, so not a lot of catches or yards for anybody. Don’t you think Garrett Wilson was a little frustrated also, finishing with one catch for 8 yards against Green Bay?

If they can complete more passes, like a Kansas City, Buffalo-type offense, and spread the ball around with myriad completions, everybody is happy, because everybody is eating.

So we do know what is going on.

Not enough completions.


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Best to handle internally or go public? 10.18.22

After the Jets’ upset win over Green Bay on Sunday, a negative angle became one of the top stories.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini tweeted: “Of all the eye-popping stats/factoids today, this one is hard to understand: Elijah Moore: 0 targets. #Jets.”

The Jets, a big underdog, won 27-10 at Lambeau Field, so some might argue that a stat like that didn’t matter much.

But Moore, 22, a very prideful young man, decided to respond on Twitter to defend his honor:

“If I say what I really wanna say, I’ll be the selfish guy…we winning,” Moore tweeted in response to Cimini. “Grateful! Huge blessing! All I ever wanted. Butter sweet for me, but I’ll be solid. So I’ll just stay quiet. Just know I don’t understand either.”

Robert Saleh was asked about this tweet on Monday:

“He’s fine. He’s a competitive young man,” Saleh said. “He wants to contribute. I’ve got no problem with Elijah. He’s one of our high-character individuals.”

If a player tweeted this kind of thing in New England, they might be inactive for the next game.

Not saying that Saleh should make Moore inactive. Bill Belichick is old-school. Players have changed. Saleh is very good at connecting with the new generation of players. The Jets play very hard for Saleh.

However, some might argue it would have been best for the player to voice his concerns about his role privately with his coaches, not on Twitter.

But some would argue it’s fine to go public with this. It depends on what your worldview is in this ever-changing world.


The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine will be out later this week with Breece Hall on the cover. You don’t want to miss it! So much stuff about the Jets you won’t read anywhere else! We promise you. A JC subscription makes a great holiday or birthday gift for a friend or relative. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe, or click below.

Steelers were ravaged, and Jets took advantage 10.02.22

Down 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, the Jets stormed back to beat Pittsburgh 24-20. What changed in the fourth for a Jets offense that was sluggish up to that point?

“They won third downs,” said Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. “We didn’t win them. They’re getting the ball to the guys they wanted to get it to. We didn’t stop them. When they get the ball where they want to get it, it’s tough to win.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked what happened to his defense in the fourth quarter.

“Some attrition things, fatigue, etcetera, but also execution by the Jets,” Tomlin said.

“Attrition” is a creative word to avoid using injuries as an excuse in an answer.

But man, the Steelers were beat up in their secondary by the fourth quarter.

They entered the game without starting left cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon who was inactive, then lost start strong safety Terrell Edmunds to a concussion in the second quarter, then starting right cornerback Cam Sutton pulled a hamstring in the second half, and Fitzpatrick hurt his knee late in the game. That is the entire Steelers starting secondary.

The Jets and Zach Wilson (who completed all six passes on the last drive) deserve credit for taking advantage of this, and pulling out the win.



This Jets defender showing great leadship 09.27.22

Sometimes you need some “blunt force trauma” as one former Jets coach used to say.

In other words, you need blunt honesty about what is going on.

And Jets cornerback D.J. Reed is providing that.

Two weeks in a row, the Jets allowed wide-open touchdown receptions to the other team’s top receiver in the middle of the end zone – Cleveland’s Amari Cooper and Cincinnati’s Jamar Chase. How does that happen?

“We gotta on be on the same page and we’re not right now,” Reed said.

The Jets are allowing opponents to get too many easy explosive plays. Not just the two plays mentioned above, but in their opening day loss against Baltimore, receivers Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman, were left wide open for easy touchdowns.

“We aren’t letting teams beat us by out-executing us, we are just giving them stuff – we gotta get that fixed ASAP,” Reed said.

Good for Reed. He’s not trying to put lipstick on this.

“Right now we are not communicating loud enough to hear each other,” Reed said.

There will be no excuse for communication issues on the road in Pittsburgh.

Remember, home crowds are quiet for their offense.


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Flacco on his role with Gang Green now and moving forward 09.22.22

Q: Robert said that when Zach (Wilson) is healthy, he goes back in the lineup because he is the future of this organization. You are on a little bit of a role here. How do you process that? If you win Sunday and have another good game, there is a good chance that you might not play the following week. So, do you think that’s right? What’s your opinion?

Flacco: Well, I’m really excited so far that we won last week and that I was able to be a part of that. I think, as I’ve said from the very beginning, hopefully I can do the same next week. I am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had for the last two weeks and this upcoming week to put our team in a position to win and put our team hopefully in a position to be in a good spot moving forward for the rest of the year and that’s my job, that’s what I can do, and I’m happy about it.

Q: So, if that happens, it happens? You just move back to the other role?

Flacco: That’s right. You always hear that this is the ultimate team sport and it really is. When your number is called, you step up and you do your job. That’s all that you can control, so that’s all you worry about controlling and as long as we do that as a 53 man-roster, plus a couple guys, at week in and week out, then I think we’re going to find ourselves in a lot of good situations.

Q: Is that something you had to learn to accept in your last few roles? Whether it was here, behind Sam (Darnold), in Philadelphia behind Jalen (Hurts), and now Zach? They’ve been drafted to be the future of the organizations. Is that something that you kind of have to accept in your role?

Flacco: I think no matter what, at a certain point, when you sign up to be on a football team, when you make that decision to commit to a football team and you make a roster, you’re there to do what you’re there to do and that’s all you can worry about. I think that’s all of us. I think if we keep that kind of focus on just what we can control, then like I said, that’s when the team comes together, and everything takes care of itself. Like I said, I am really grateful for the opportunity to hopefully continue to set us up for success later in the season, but that’s all I can worry about at this point. I am very glad to be able to do it.


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Jets need to get this fixed ASAP 09.21.22

They deserve a lot of credit for their impressive comeback win over the Cleveland Browns

However, moving forward, they must play better defense if they hope to have a successful season.

In their 31-30 last-second win over Cleveland, they gave up 13 first downs in the fourth quarter.

They gave up 184 yards and three touchdowns rushing. The Browns averaged 5.0 per carry.

Aside from a late pick to ice the game, they made a journeyman QB, Jacoby Brissett, look like Aaron Rodgers, going 22-27 for 229 yards and a touchdown. The Jets better tighten things up with Joe Burrow coming to town with a desperate 0-2 Cincinnati Bengal teams loaded with passing game weapons.

There was another communication breakdown on the back end leaving receiver Amari Cooper wide open in the end zone for an easy TD.  Remember, there were a few of these coverage breakdowns against Baltimore in the opener. If they don’t clean this up, Burrow might have a field day.

So while the Jets deserve a ton of credit for what they accomplished on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, they need to step things up on defense if they want to have sustainable success.


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Garrett Wilson – ‘I love Joe’ 09.20.22

Q: At what point did you realize the comeback was possible? 

Garrett Wilson: As soon as (Nick) Chubb scored. Coach said, ‘they just gave us our only chance.’ We go down 30-17 and then (Jets WR Corey Davis) CD has a quick touchdown. At that point, we are all believing. Now we are going to get this onside kick. As soon as they scored, we were like ‘Oh, that is kind of quick, we still have shot at this.”

Q: What is your impression of QB Joe Flacco and how he plays?

Wilson: I love Joe. The way he goes about his business is that he understands the way the NFL is and you can tell by looking at him. When everyone is trying is a little bit frantic sometimes running around the facility, Joe is just kind of walking through there. It translates to the game too and it translates to how he goes about preparation. He is in control and he really wants to be on the same page as all of us, especially with these younger dudes.

Q: What happened on the game-winning touchdown?

Wilson: It is just executing the same plays we would hit on earlier in the game. We got the same end of the field, and they ended up giving us the same look right there. Just taking advantage, if they give something up on the field, you have to take advantage. Especially that time of the game.

Q: After hurting your back, did you think it would be hard to go back in the game?

Wilson: No. Never that. It is always how fast I can get back in the game. It is never, “I’m out.”

Q: What was your reaction when you guys recovered the on-side kick? 

Wilson: I went crazy. I’m sure there will be a TV clip. I went absolutely crazy on the sideline. I didn’t want my drop to be the reason why we lost the game.


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What’s the difference? 09.09.22

As the late Raiders owner Al Davis liked to say, “Just win baby.”

Who cares how and when Robert Saleh announced that Joe Flacco would be starting Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens?

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Who cares?

Aren’t there bigger problems out there in the world to focus on than nonsense like this?

I’m going to assess Saleh on how he coaches the team this year, not his media announcements.

I’m really interested to see what happens with his defense, which was inconsistent last year. That’s the side of the ball he made his bones. With better talent, will they perform better? We shall see.

There are so many football things to focus on, I just can’t get caught up with how he handled the Flacco announcement. That is not something on my radar.

What they do this Sunday and on the rest of the game days this season, that’s on the radar.


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Now we kind of know why they signed this player 09.08.22

On Tuesday, the Jets added this player to their practice squad. Now perhaps we know why.

They signed journeyman offensive tackle Eric Smith, who was actually with them in 2018. He’s been on six other teams, including a recent stint with the New York Football Giants, who released him on August 29.

Now the reason for the move is clearer.

Veteran left tackle Duane Brown, who signed in August, has a shoulder issue.

Not that Smith is going to start, but they cleared needed another veteran tackle in the building after finding out about Brown’s shoulder concern.

Depending on the severity of the injury, they could also move George Fant back to left tackle, at least for a minute.


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Saleh doesn’t want to be asked about it every freakin day 09.08.22

Florham Park – A decision was made, at least for three weeks, so don’t ask him about it ad nauseam.

The Jets are going to start Joe Flacco at least for the next three games due to Zach Wilson’s knee injury suffered while scrambling in a preseason game. So between now and then, Jets coach Robert Saleh isn’t going to answer non-stop questions about Wilson, and he made that clear on Wednesday.

“To be honest with you guys, I’m just going to lay this out,” Saleh said. “I really don’t want to talk about the situation anymore. The earliest he is going to be available is Pittsburgh.”

Good for him.

So for those who’ve made a cottage industry out of asking Wilson questions, they will have to change their script for a few weeks.

It could be refreshing to hear more questions about things like the Jets’ run defense, which needs to improve a great deal from last year, going against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ powerful rushing attack.

Nothing against Wilson, but how about a time-out for a few weeks from asking questions about him ad infinitum?

It’s getting tedious. There are so many burning questions about this team in all three phases, so how about we broaden the lens a little bit?

So hat-tip to Saleh for trying to put a lid on Wilson questions for a few weeks.


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