“I don’t know him [but] I know of him, I think the whole world does,” Saleh told reporters on September 13. He continued: “He’s one of the greatest of all-time, his schemes, his personnel decisions, all of it has withstood the test of time. He’s won many many different ways, he’s won without a quarterback, he’s won with a quarterback, he does it all, and so it’s always a tremendous challenge to go against him and their schemes both offensively, defensively and special teams for that matter… I mean God he’s been coaching the Patriots since I started coaching so just to watch his legacy grow and the coach that he is, it’s an honor to share the same field as he does.”
It’s a far cry from what Rex Ryan might have stated heading into a home opener against the Pats, but Saleh’s style is easy to love in its own way. He’s respectful, inciteful and humble off the field while consistently raising his intensity on it.
The players love this genuine personality, but Saleh knows it’ll take more than that to beat Belichick head-to-head. “His understanding of offensive protection systems and all that stuff is just, I mean he understands it as an offensive coordinator would,” the Jets’ HC stated.
Belichick is known for his ability to take away a team’s best offensive weapon, forcing lesser players to beat him. For the Jets, that number one option in the offense right now is Corey Davis and the Patriots’ HC knows it.
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Belichick Has Eye on Davis
“Davis has been a big target for [Zach Wilson] through the preseason and in the Carolina game,” Belichick told Scott Zolak on a segment of “The Belestrator.”
For those that are unfamiliar with the style that the gruff coach uses when handling public relations matters, that quote was practically a warning that the defensive mastermind will have his eye on the Jets WR1, which should come as no surprise.
The big-money free agent hasn’t just been the best wide receiver since Elijah Moore’s training camp injury slowed down his sensational summer, he’s been the only one stepping up as of late. Against the Panthers, Davis received seven out of 20 WR targets from Wilson and made the most of them with 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Saleh spoke about Davis’ influence on September 15: “First off, just his preparation [and] his communication off and on the sideline and in practices… he is big because of that veteran presence, just for the organization in general. [Then] to have that with Zach and to be able to communicate and have knowledge of coverage and how to get open and how to create separation, and to be that reliable sure-handed guy that you know [is] going to be exactly where he’s supposed to be when he needs to be there and that he’s going to do it exactly the way it needs to be done — for a quarterback to have that trust is priceless.”
Slot substitute Braxton Berrios was the only player to receive as much attention as the ex-Titans’ star with seven targets of his own, while tight end Ryan Griffin ended up with six and Tyler Kroft finished with five.
The Green & White will need other playmakers to step up if they’re going to beat New England on Sunday.
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2 Key Playmakers Are Set to Return
“Keelan will be back in the fold this week,” Saleh told the media, adding that Crowder has to “clear one more day” of COVID protocols. He did note that the slot threat was “ready to roll” once those protocols clear.
This will be a huge help for Wilson, who could use the polished weapons to relieve some pressure off of the O-line in pass protection. If the rookie can get the ball out fast and keep this defense off-balance, it flips the entire matchup in the Jets’ favor.
“We feel like we’ve got more than one guy,” Saleh voiced when asked about the possibility of Belichick taking Davis out of the game with double-teams. He added: “There’s going to be a lot of opportunities for other guys to get open if they want to double a guy… that’s where that chess match with Coach Belichick always happens and you’ve got to pick and choose your battles and stay sound and committed to what you’re doing and get ready to play chess with one of the best chess players in the world.”
Saleh is correct in that the opportunity should be there for the taking, but the secondary playmakers have to execute. If it takes four or five seconds for a pass-catcher to get open like in Carolina, things could get ugly in a hurry with ferocious pass-rushers like Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy on the other side of the football.
As for Davis, the team captain called the Patriots a “sound defense” during his press conference. He elaborated: “They make few mistakes, they fly around, they play hard, so they’ll be a good challenge for us as an offense to go out there and do what we want to do.”
Davis will likely match up with J.C. Jackson more often than not, who he called a “strong corner.” The Jets star wide-out added that the Pats CB is “solid, physical, and can run [with] good ball skills,” saying Jackson “does a lot of things really well.”