Jets’ Robert Saleh in Hot Water After Benching 1st Rounder Will McDonald

Will McDonald, Jets

Getty New York Jets defensive lineman Will McDonald making a play during an NFL preseason game.

The decision by New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh to bench Will McDonald in the Week 2 matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys isn’t going over well.

Saleh was widely criticized on social media after the game for the decision to make the former first round pick a “healthy scratch” in the second week of the season.

Michael Marino said on X previously Twitter that McDonald is already looking like a “questionable pick.”

Saleh Explains Decision After Jets-Cowboys Game

The Jets officially released their inactives list at 2:55 pm Eastern Time on Sunday September 17. That list included four rookies from April’s draft highlighted by McDonald.

Robby Sabo of Jets X-Factor said McDonald being inactive was a “bit of a surprise” when you consider his name and recognition wise as a first-round pick.

However, he explained the meat and potatoes of the decision based on the other personnel the Jets possess in the defensive line room.

“You can’t dress them all [in reference to his defensive linemen],” Saleh explained after the game to the media. “[We] had an opportunity to get Carl [Lawson] up. Felt like they were going to run the ball a little bit today. With their offensive line I just wanted to get a little meatier if you will.”

When you look at the numbers after the game the strategy appeared to have worked.

The Cowboys had 44 rushing attempts combined for 134 yards. The group averaged 3.0 yards per clip and never had a rush longer than 23 yards.

The Jets may have won the battle, in this individual matchup, but ultimately lost the war when you look at the 30-10 final score.

Top Social Media Reactions to Saleh’s Decision to Bench McDonald

One social media user employed a Zach Wilson meme to react to the decision saying, “1st round pick inactive in his second game?”

Another social media user thought a sarcastic reply was the better choice saying, “Gotta love 1st round pick as a healthy scratch.” He also added the hashtag “checkers not chess.”

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Someone else openly asked, “Why draft Will just to make him inactive?”

It’s a fair question.

The Jets aren’t a perfect team by any means, and they certainly could have used a first-round pick level talent at a variety of positions. Despite that the team decided to add some strength to an already perceived strength by taking McDonald with the No. 15 overall pick in the first round of April’s draft.

Gang Green argued following the draft that they had a plan for McDonald and they couldn’t pass up the value of someone they deemed to have game-wrecking qualities. Yet those attributes apparently weren’t enough to get him on the field in the second week of his rookie season.

That is hard to explain regardless of whatever analytics or coach speak you attempt to point towards.

First round picks are supposed to be pillars of your organization and someone that works his way into the starting lineup. Yet McDonald has only played 13 snaps so far this season according to Pro Football Reference.

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