HC Robert Saleh gave his final press conference of 2023 on Friday following the Jets' 37-20 loss at the Browns. He spoke encouragingly about the progress the offense has made since the unit's struggles to find the end zone in October and November.
Following the Week 7 bye, the Jets' offense scored three touchdowns in six games and went 1-5 over that span. Since, the unit has found its footing with 7 TDs in its last four games and a 2-2 record.
"Through the last four or five games – take away the Miami game – I think our offense is really hitting," Saleh said. "I feel like they are really getting into a little rhythm and looking like an NFL offense, moving the ball, getting third-down conversions and all that good stuff. I just want to continue to see them find ways to get better."
After the team's disappointing loss to Miami in Week 12, Saleh called on talented RB Breece Hall to be more aggressive when fighting for extra yards. Hall has accepted the challenge and been a catalyst for the offense's recent success.
"It takes time for these ACL injuries," Saleh said. "Remember he missed all OTAs and missed all the training camp just training. I am not going to give him an out or anything, but at the same time I do think he's improved so much in terms of just not being satisfied."
In his last four games, Hall has combined for 458 scrimmage yards, 31 receptions and 4 touchdowns against the Texans, the Dolphins, the Commanders and the Browns.
"He is lowering his shoulder, and he is getting vertical," Saleh said. "He is being opportunistic in terms of finding lanes and clear space to run through and he's been doing an awesome job the last few weeks and he has looked awesome. Hopefully he continues to get better."
Thursday night against Cleveland, Hall got the offense off to a fast start with 21-yard touchdown reception. The Jets drove 75 yards in 6 plays to tie the game at 7-7. The next offensive series, QB Trevor Siemian threw a pick-6which put the Jets behind by20-7. The Jets finished the game 6 of 16 on third down and 0-1 in the red zone. For as disappointing as game was, Saleh has still been encouraged by the offense's recent progression.
"I thought offensively that first drive was really good," Saleh said. "The pick-6 was unfortunate, but overall, I felt like the offense was moving the ball. Just got to find ways to continue to take advantage of our opportunities in the redzone."
Pass Defense Lacked 'Precision' vs. Cleveland
The Jets' pass defense played an uncharacteristic game in Thursday's loss to the Browns. It allowed 296 yards passing in the first half ,including 4 receptions for 113 yards and touchdown to TE David Njoku in the first quarter. Heading into the game, the Jets had not allowed a 300-plus yard passer in 33 consecutive games and unit ranked fourth in passing yards allowed this season (176.9 per game). Browns QB Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
"Coming out of the game, defensively in the first quarter, it was just a little bit off," HC Robert Saleh said. "It just wasn't like us, in terms of from a precision standpoint."
Saleh reviewed the film on the team's flight home from Cleveland on Thursday night and into Friday morning. He identified a few plays that could have made a difference in outcome of the game has the team focused on fixing the issues for week.
"On the third-and-15 we just sunk a little bit too deep in our zones and gave the check down a little bit more space than he needed," Saleh said. "Then the shallow cross, C.J. [Mosley] lost his footing. Then obviously the deep crosser went right over CJ's head and you just to give credit to the quarterback he put in a tight window. But overall, coverage wise, we can be a heck of a lot better."
Looking Ahead to New England
To wrap up the season, the Jets will go on the road to play New England. The Patriots defeated New York, 15-10, in Week 3 and have won 15 straight against the Green & White.
QB Zach Wilson remains in the concussion protocol and his status for next Sunday's game is unclear. However, HC Robert Saleh said that if Wilson is healthy, he will be "part of the discussion" as to who will be the starter in Week 18.
As for the rest of the team, Saleh hopes to see them continue to build on the progress they have made since being eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15.
"I want us looking like an NFL offense, moving the ball, getting third-down conversions, and all that good stuff," Saleh said. "I just want to see them continue to find ways to get better. A lot of these young guys, [rookie WR Jason] Brownlee, got significant snaps yesterday, so did Xavier Gipson, obviously Garrett [Wilson] is Garrett, he's another 1,000-yard receiver. Breece is improving every day, and I thought the O-line did a little bit better yesterday, especially in the run game. So slowly, it's been getting better, which has been promising. We'd love to see them finish on a high note and defensively get back to our standard, get back to who we are. Special teams have been good all year, so to continue that."