There is a famous saying in life, fortune favors the bold.
On November 28 in Houston, New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh took that phrase to heart while making multiple choices that involved a good deal of risk. When you’re staring a 2-9 record in the face during your inaugural season, sometimes it pays to take chances and that mentality helped earn Gang Green a much-needed win in Week 12.
The first-half two-point conversion and the back-to-back decisions to go for it on fourth down late in the final quarter were a few moments in particular that ‘favored the bold.’ Coach Saleh explained those crucial judgment calls after the game.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Saleh Puts Faith in Coordinator
During his postgame press conference, Saleh detailed the thought process behind these different gambles.
The Jets HC stated: “The fourth and five — we’re in position right there, we’re in a little gray area. It was 50-50 dealer’s choice [and we] just wanted to go with it. The second one, we were getting ready to kick that field goal and [Mike] LaFleur was adamant that he had a play call to get the first down and so, burned the timeout, put the offense back on, and he proved it right.”
At this point, most fans know that LaFleur and Saleh were friends before ever working together — being that older brother Matt LaFleur was the best man at Saleh’s wedding — but either way that trust from your head coach is huge. Considering the Jets OC was almost run out of town early on, it seems he’s earning his chops on a weekly basis now.
While watching that timeout call where Saleh elected to pull kicker Matt Ammendola off the field, my only question was why hadn’t he done it from the get-go. This quote reveals the answer, LaFleur convinced him, and here was the play the OC utilized to virtually seal things for the Jets.
Love the confidence from the first-year play-caller and going one step further, the faith from Coach Saleh.
He also spoke on the two-point conversion, noting: “Same thing, we really liked the two-point play but at the same time, it was to get it to three points.” LaFleur’s play-calling was mostly conservative in Week 12 but when push came to shove in the key moments, he got the job done.
The same can be said for rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who attempted more of a game manager role against the Texans. He came up clutch with a 13-yard completion to Keelan Cole on the initial fourth down, while fellow-rookie and dynamic playmaker Elijah Moore took the fourth and one around the edge for the seven-yard run above.
Even though the Jets didn’t end up scoring a touchdown on this drive, they wasted exactly three minutes and 31 seconds of extra clock time in the final quarter. They also set up a chip-shot for Ammendola, who had already missed a field goal earlier in the game.
Both of those results cannot be understated as the Green & White held on and snagged a win in Houston.
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Jets Kicker Still on the Hot Seat
The flip side of all three of these risky calls is that Saleh does not seem to trust Ammendola right now. After a horrendous Week 11 performance, it became abundantly clear that the Jets’ first-year kicker was on the hot seat.
The Alex Kessman signing confirmed that, but the franchise decided to give Ammendola another shot before sending him packing.
In Week 12, Saleh practically dubbed the kicker twice on these plays after he missed another field goal from 42 yards. They also passed on his services a third time if you include the extra point try.
For a player that’s trying to save his job, missed and lost opportunities like this are not ideal. Ammendola could be running out of time in New York and there’s a chance we see a change as early as next week.
- Jets 2022 Mock Draft Favorite Obliterates Ohio State LT in Viral Clip
- Twitter Erupts Over Polarizing Zach Wilson Comparison
- Jets Veteran Transforms From Zero to Hero in Win vs. Texans