The Jets got back to work on Monday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center after their bye in Week 7 and head coach Robert Saleh said that he's going to try "something different" in his third go-round coming off a break in the 17-game schedule.
"The shame of last year, just offensively, I think we were so depleted, within the first couple of weeks after the bye week, we just couldn't recover," he said, referring to the season-ending injuries sustained by RB Breece Hall and OL Alijah Vera-Tucker and others. "The important thing is to stay healthy, keep preparing the way we prepare, keep playing the way we play, and hopefully we end up on the right side of the result."
Like last season, injuries are always a concern and Saleh said that he would not know the potential availability of several players until the middle of the week. That list includes rookie OL Joe Tippmann (thigh), CBs D.J. Reed, Sauce Gardner (concussions) and Brandin Echols (hamstring), OT Duane Brown (shoulder), DL Micheal Clemons (ankle) and WR Xavier Gipson (ankle). AVT is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon and special team standout Justin Hardee (hamstring) is on injured reserve.
Saleh kept it on the general side when he was asked what, exactly, he planned to do differently.
"Just scheduling stuff," he said. "Just trying to tweak the schedule. The first year , it felt like we stayed on the gas and we did improve as the year went on. Last year, I felt like we may have taken too much off, where it just kind of fizzled away, and we're trying to find that happy medium, because in Year 1 I felt like we got better as the year went on, finished strong. Last year, obviously we didn't. Somewhere there's a middle ground where we can keep guys fresh and healthy and try to finish this thing as strong as we can."
In the 2021 season, the Jets opened with a 1-4 record, had a week off and returned with a one-sided loss to New England followed by a victory over Cincinnati -- ultimately finishing 4-13. Last season, the Jets defeated Buffalo, then emerged from the bye with a deflating loss at New England. They ran the record to 7-4 with a win against Chicago before it all went south to finish 7-10.
"There's a lot of things I look at from an inward standpoint," Saleh said. "Like what could I have done better from a scheduling standpoint to help our guys stay fresh? What could we have done from a practice standpoint to help our guys stay healthy? That's the big thing. What can we do to stay fresh, excited about the game, and stay healthy at the same time? Some things you have no control over, so we've been diving into the schedule compared to a year ago. We tried changing things up, we're changing things up.
"Nothing drastic, but enough to try to keep our guys both physically, emotionally, mentally involved where they don't feel like it's 'oh here we go again', it's this long day. Just trying to make sure we find that balance where we still hit what we're trying to hit from a preparation standpoint, but again, keeping our guys fresh mentally and physically."
The Jets closed out their first six games with a thrilling upset victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles. The atmosphere at MetLife Stadium was electric during the game and afterward the players in the locker room were ecstatic. But there are 11 more regular-season games to play starting with Sunday's "away" game against the Giants and then a Monday night tilt against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.
"There's a lot of excitement over beating Philadelphia," Saleh said. "It was a great atmosphere, everyone was pretty charged after the game, but you don't approach any game differently than you do any other game. Obviously, the Giants, it's another championship opportunity. And the mindset is always approach every day of life as you would — the whole mindset of go to bed better than you woke up, you're always attacking things like it's a championship moment. And if you do that, you'll have that level of consistency, and juice, and energy in terms of attacking every moment you can."
Robert Salehsaid that the decision to trade WR Mecole Hardman, who was signed in free agency, to the Chiefs was largely driven by the emergence of undrafted free agent Xavier Gipson. Gipson gave a glimpse of his versatility when he returned a Buffalo punt for the winning TD in OT in the season-opening game on Sept. 11. ... "With Mecole, he's been fantastic, a good young man," Saleh said. "He was battling injuries in OTAs and training camp, and in the meantime here comes this undrafted rookie, and man this guy's really good. It was an opportunity for us to develop a young guy. I'm excited for Mecole and his opportunity, but it's more a testament to Gipson being able to get some reps. He took it and ran with it and is doing a heck of a job." ... Sunday's losses by Miami and Buffalo have put the AFC East race in serious play. "It's fun to watch, this is a league of equality, which is designed for all to play .500 football." ... Talking about fun to watch, Saleh said he spent his Sunday watching a daughter's soccer game and two sons playing in their football game. "It was a full day of watching youth sports," he said. "I kept tabs with the Red Zone channel on my phone."