Jets’ Robert Saleh Breaks Silence on Mecole Hardman Benching

Mecole Hardman, Jets

Getty New York Jets wide receiver Mecole Hardman trying to make a play during a preseason game.

Mecole Hardman didn’t appear in a single offensive snap for the New York Jets in Week 1 versus the Buffalo Bills on Monday September 11.

Head coach Robert Saleh was asked about that decision on Wednesday September 13.

“Obviously with Aaron [Rodgers] there was a certain plan that was in place, so when Aaron went down, we shifted gears to a different style of football. A lot of the things that Aaron wanted to do [involved] three receiver sets and once he was out of the game we went into a different type of an offense,” Saleh explained.

“We pivoted especially at halftime, credit to the offensive staff making the adjustments that we needed to make to be able to start moving the ball and get points on the board. So that wasn’t the plan [not to play him], the plan was to give him some play time. So hopefully this week we can get him out there.”

A Fresh Jets Gameplan Should Get the Speedster on the Field

Rodgers got all of the first team reps heading into the season opener versus the Bills. Then less than 75 seconds of offense later he was out for not only the game, but the rest of the season with a torn Achilles.

For months the Jets had been preparing for the Buffalo game in Week 1. The plan was built around the strengths of Rodgers, not Zach Wilson.

Yet all of a sudden, the former BYU product was tasked with running the game specific plan built for Rodgers.

Wilson had his fair share of struggles. He completed 14 of his 21 pass attempts, threw a horrific interception, and finished with 140 passing yards and threw one passing touchdown.

He will be making his first start of the season against the ferocious Dallas Cowboys defense. Good luck kid.

It will be a tall task, but he will benefit from getting the entirety of the first team reps and the offensive coaching staff building a plan around his strengths.

One wrinkle that could help him is the inclusion of Hardman in the offensive gameplan. He brings elite speed to the table and can be utilized on pop screens, jet sweeps, and drags across the middle of the field.

With Rodgers you could dream of deep ball touchdowns to Hardman and maybe those kinds of plays can still happen with Wilson, but not this week. The Dallas defense is too good, and the pass rush stable is deep. It’s unlikely that Gang Green will have enough time to protect Wilson to take those kinds of shots in this matchup.

Instead, they can try to get some YAC (yards after catch) going with Hardman by getting him the ball quickly in open space.

Is Trouble on the Horizon for the Jets?

The last time a Jets wide receiver didn’t get the offensive touches he was looking for, he requested a trade in the middle of a winning streak.

I’m of course referencing Elijah Moore. The Jets upset the Packers in Green Bay 27-10 on October 16 of 2022, but coming off of the victory Moore didn’t get a target.

He had been frustrated by his lack of involvement in the offense and it came to a boiling point following the Packers game.

Moore took to Twitter and revealed his frustrations publicly via Rich Cimini of ESPN:

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

On Wednesday September 13, a social media user by the handle “@CaliJets” noticed that Hardman liked a post on X previously Twitter highlighting his lack of playing time in the season opener.

“Anyone else miss @MecoleHardman4? He hasn’t played at all tonight.”

After what transpired last year with Moore and also Denzel Mims who also requested a trade, the Jets would like to avoid any more drama in the receiver room.

In this particular case with Hardman, it seems like his lack of playing time was solely attributed to an unpredictable injury to Rodgers that totally shifted the offensive gameplan.

That excuse won’t fly if Hardman is unable to get on the field during the Week 2 matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday September 17. This could be something to monitor if his absence from the offense continues this season.

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Matthew O'Leary
Matthew O'Leary
11 days ago

A bummer but I understand why he wasn’t on the field. All those TE’s were needed