Jets’ Robert Saleh Explains Benching of Al Woods in Chiefs Game

Al Woods, Jets

Getty Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Al Woods trying to make a play during an NFL game.

The New York Jets curiously made defensive lineman Al Woods inactive ahead of the Week 4 matchup versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

On Wednesday, October 4, head coach Robert Saleh explained the rationale behind that decision.

“You know with the styles of runs that Kansas City had, there was a couple of things. One from a special teams standpoint, two we had to get another DB [defensive back] on the field which actually paid dividends when [Brandin] Echols got hurt with the packages we wanted to run defensively with their pass game,” Saleh said.

“That was the big reason. We are unconventional in the sense that we dress 9-10 defensive linemen, traditionally it’s 8. So we had to give one to get a DB on the field.”

Jets Mistake Proved Costly Against the Chiefs

The Jets signed Woods to a one-year deal for $2.25 million this offseason. When they signed him they were adding him for one specific purpose, to stop the run.

The 6-foot-3, 330-pound anchor was supposed to plug into the middle of the defensive line and eat up space.

According to Pro Football Focus, Woods has a 55.6 run defense grade which is his highest metric.

He is the second-best Jets’ defensive lineman against the run this season, per PFF’s interior defensive line ranks.

New York certainly could’ve used that kind of production in Week 4 against the defending Super Bowl champions on Sunday Night Football.

Kansas City rushed for over 204 yards as a team and averaged 5.8 yards per clip.

Isiah Pacheco was the main highlight of those rushing efforts with 20 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown. He broke a 48-yarder to the house to give the Chiefs a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

Saleh’s explanation of why Woods didn’t play makes football sense, but the problem is the team is getting too cute on a week-to-week basis. They’re trying to guess/predict/prognosticate which of their talented defensive linemen they should leave on the sideline depending on the kind of team they’re facing against.

The Jets did it in Week 2 when they made Will McDonald a healthy scratch against the Dallas Cowboys. He was the No. 15 overall pick in the first round of April’s draft.

Under no circumstance should a first-round draft choice be inactive outside of health reasons. If the Jets think they have too many defensive linemen then they should trade one away.

Benching really talented players that could help your team seems like an odd strategy and it has hurt the Jets in several games this season.

Jets Make Roster Move Ahead of Week 5 Broncos Game

The Jets have signed offensive lineman Xavier Newman to the practice squad. In a corresponding move, they cut offensive lineman Adam Pankey.

These moves were announced on Thursday, October 5 on X previously Twitter.

Newman is 24 years of age and has spent the last season and a half on the Tennessee Titans roster. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2022, didn’t make the initial 53-man roster, but was brought back on the practice squad.

Fast forward a year later and the former Baylor product made the initial 53-man roster, but he got cut earlier this week on Monday, October 2.

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