Robert Saleh Refuses to Back Mekhi Becton as Jets Starter

Robert Saleh Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh on the sideline in the middle of an NFL game.

Normally NFL head coaches don’t make a lot of headlines during the month of February.

Although the New York Jets are being featured in a special spotlight as its coaching staff was selected to participate in this year’s Senior Bowl festivities.

During Robert Saleh’s first availability with the media after practice, his comments went viral about the status of a very important player.

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No Guarantees in February

Saleh spoke to the media down in Mobile, Alabama and candidly for the first time was critical of offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

He said that the former No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft isn’t guaranteed to be the starting left tackle in 2022. Instead, he will have to “earn it” by beating out veteran George Fant.

Becton suffered torn ligaments and a dislocated knee in the season opener versus the Carolina Panthers. He ended up missing the entirety of the 2021 campaign.

That injury forced the Jets to play musical chairs by flipping Fant from the right to the left side and Morgan Moses came off the bench.

Despite being thrown into the fire, Fant performed more than admirably evolving into a stellar blindside protector for Zach Wilson and the Jets.

Now Saleh is ready to ring the bell and start an open competition at left tackle in February.

“[Becton] has to come in and reassert himself into the starting lineup,” Saleh said via The Athletic.

Keeping All Options on the Table

This is something the Jets haven’t experienced in a very long time, a first-world problem.

With both Fant and Becton on the roster, the green and white have a surplus of talent at the offensive tackle position.

Saleh is playing this exactly right. After Fant’s spectacular season he has earned the right to at the very least compete for the starting left tackle gig.

Nothing should be handed out or given to anyone, things must be earned and that is the tone Saleh set during his mini presser with the media.

Saleh also indicated that Fant has “the inside track” to win the left tackle job. To make things even more interesting he wouldn’t rule out the green and white drafting another tackle in this 2022 draft class and having Becton compete with that player on the right side.

Both Fant and Becton have experience playing on the left and right sides respectively, which is another added bonus.

From a fan’s perspective, you should love competition because that makes everyone better. On that same subject, it still has to be incredibly disappointing that a former No. 11 overall pick is competing for a starting job in his third professional season.

For Becton, this is do or die time. Saleh has now lit a fire under his tuchus and it’s time to put up or shut up.

In a perfect world, the uber-talented Becton rises to the moment and shows up in the best possible shape, and proves general manager Joe Douglas right for betting on his upside. If he doesn’t then perhaps the former Louisville product won’t be on the green and white for much longer.

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