Two losses to begin his head-coaching career and a challenging game on Sunday for his rookie quarterback have done little to tamp down Robert Saleh's optimism and certainty that the Green & White -- particularly Zach Wilson -- are headed in the right direction.
"He's going to grow from going through the experience of yesterday," Saleh said on Monday, referring to Wilson's four-interception performance in the 22-6 loss to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium. "I talked to him real quick today [Monday]. He's such a resilient young man. He can probably recite every single play that happened. I know he's going to get better from this. He's in a good place."
Since the preseason, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has been calling plays from the sideline, instead of up in the pressbox, and Saleh was asked if in light of Wilson's play on Sunday, if LaFleur might be riding the press box elevator when the Jets travel to Denver to face the Broncos on Sunday.
"The quarterback likes him down there, which is most important," Saleh said. "The quarterback wants him down there to have those conversations, after every single series of plays. It shows the team they are back there going over every scrap. You have to have a process, and for Zach it has been gold and that's what he wants."
The HC again addressed the absence of second-year WR Denzel Mims, who did not dress for the game against the Patriots after seeing three snaps (and a single reception) at Carolina in Week 1. The Jets went with a lineup that included Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, Keelan Cole and Jeff Smith. Saleh praised Smith for his work "before, during and after practice" as one of the team's primary gunners (Justin Hardee is the other). Though the Jets only punted once against New England, Saleh said that Smith helped to flip the field when he made the tackle.
"The No. 5 receiver has to be a special-team guy," Saleh said. "Same for the No. 5 linebacker or the No. 5 anything. That's just the way it works in the NFL. Jeff Smith is a gunner, and it's an important job. You can flip the field or set them back. Mims has to know that."
George Fant's Flip to Left Side
With Mekhi Becton out with a knee injury, veteran offensive tackle George Fant, who had won the job on the right side of the line over Morgan Moses, has found himself having to adjust to playing on the other side.
"It was fine," he said about his strong play, along with the other four starters on the O-line. "There were highs and lows. I'm building my confidence over there again. Obviously there are plays guys want back, but it's just something to build on, a cornerstone, for sure."
The Jets O-line was firing against the Patriots as the Jets running game -- powered by a triumvirate of Michael Carter, Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman -- amassed 152 yards (Zach Wilson contributed 19 yards to that total on three scrambles).
"Obviously, we're still searching," Fant said. "Some things happened yesterday that we have to capture and take to next week. We're still working through some things, but we found some things also."
One of those "finds" was the strong running of Michael Carter, who gained a team-high 59 yards and also picked up 6 first downs (4 rushing, 2 after receptions).
"It wasn't just him," Fant said. "It was all those guys. We're getting things rolling. Not just one guy. I'm excited to get this running game going."
See All of the Top Images from the Jets' First Home Game with Fans in Two Seasons
C.J. Mosley Is Back
A team-leading 10 takedowns. Bone-crushing tackles. Speed all over the field.
"It's been two years," C.J. Mosley said. "I've finally put some new stuff on tape. I feel like I did well."
Indeed he did.
In so many ways, Mosley is the spirited veteran heart and soul of the Jets' emerging and developing defense. It's no secret that the linebacker signed in free agency from Baltimore has been itching to re-establish himself after missing most of the past two seasons -- 2019 because of injury and last season after opting-out over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Now No. 57 is again a force, a bit lighter at 231 pounds, but no less of a force.
"I definitely feel fast, it's just that I don't think about it on the field," Mosley told reporters on Monday. "It's just part of the game, we get paid to be professionals, paid to make sure we're in the best shape of our lives. It's what I do to be great, you can't lead from the sideline or if you're tired and can't run around and make plays. I had to do this to be right for this team."
Mosley and the Jets' defense held the Patriots to only 25% efficiency on third down (3 of 12), but turnovers and a couple of chunk plays were difficult to overcome.
"It's all about pride, heart and execution," he said. "We've been executing really well and putting ourselves in good positions. We stop the run, get a negative play and good coverage gives us a chance to let our lineman rush. And the back end is playing great coverage as well."
Speaking about the team's young group of cornerbacks, he said: "I'm not surprised, they've been doing it since OTAs. They have that dog mentality on the field and, unlike a lot of cornerbacks, are not afraid to tackle. They are not allowing inexperience to be a reason not to make the play."