FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Under siege after one loss, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh fired back at his team’s critics Monday, vowing to hold them accountable when the time is right.
“I know it’s going to happen,” Saleh said of a turnaround, “and we’re all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we’re not going to do anything. I’m taking receipts and I’ m going to be more than happy to share them with all of you when all is said and done.”
It was unusually strong talk from Saleh, whose offense played poorly Sunday in a 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He admitted the challenge of revitalizing the Jets is “exhausting,” but he expressed confidence in his ability to do it despite 14 losses in his first 18 games.
Saleh will be without starting quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) for at least two more games. Wilson will start throwing to receivers this week in light individual drills, but he’s still not ready for full practice.
On Sunday, fans chanted for popular third-stringer Mike White, but the Jets are expected to stick with Joe Flacco, whose lack of mobility was a factor in the loss. He was sacked three times and hit 11 times behind a leaky offensive line. Saleh opened the door slightly, though, adding, “I’m not going to promise you anything, but as of right now, Joe’s our starting quarterback” for Sunday’s road game against the Cleveland Browns (1-0).
“It’s more likely Joe, but the door is open for every position every week,” said Saleh, perhaps shortening Flacco’s leash.
Nothing much has gone right for the Jets in recent weeks. They lost Wilson in the preseason, lost two starting tackles (Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown) to injuries and played sloppy football against the Ravens, angering the fan base.
The Jets haven’t made the playoffs in 11 years and haven’t had a winning season since 2015.
“It’s exhausting,” Saleh said. “It’s exhausting for the coaches. It’s exhausting for ownership. It’s exhausting for you guys to continue to write about losers. It’s exhausting for the fans. It’s exhausting for everybody, and nobody wants to lose.”
Saleh said the goal is to “accelerate the process and win immediately,” and he put the onus on the coaches. At the same time, he noted the roster is filled with young players at key positions. He said they have to “grow up quickly.” The Jets have been rebuilding under fourth-year general manager Joe Douglas, with little to show for it.
“There’s nothing worse than being sold a bill of goods on the future,” said Saleh, who said he believes he has a “cool” roster with enough talent to win. “Everybody wants things now. It’s like the instant-coffee age.”
There were bright spots for the defense, which limited the run-heavy Ravens to 63 rushing yards. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said they have “the attributes and the scheme to be a dominant defense in this NFL.”
The offense was a different story, as it was plagued by four dropped passes, two turnovers and blown opportunities in scoring territory. Flacco passed for 307 yards, but it took 59 attempts — the most by a Jets quarterback in 11 years. The MetLife Stadium crowd wanted White, who was 1-1 last season in two complete starts.
“There’s a reason he’s called Cool Joe,” center Connor McGovern said of Flacco. “I don’t think Joe has ever let anything like that affect him.”