Jets' Robert Saleh 'Proceeding As If' He Won't Coach vs. Jaguars Due to COVID-19

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 24, 2021

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh watches a replay on screen on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Doug Murray)
AP Photo/Doug Murray

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh does not expect to coach Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"We're proceeding as if I won't coach on Sunday," Saleh, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, said Friday, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. "If I do come up with two negatives, it would be an easy adjustment. But we're operating as if I will not be there Sunday."

Saleh explained he would need to test negative Friday and Saturday to be cleared in time to coach.

If the head coach is not on the sidelines, tight ends coach Ron Middleton will fill in on an interim basis.

Middleton played in the NFL from 1986 through 1995 for the Atlanta Falcons, Washington, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers. While he has never been a head coach, he is a longtime assistant coach with experience on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jaguars prior to joining the Jets.

The Jets are simply playing out the string of a disappointing season at this point.

They are 3-11 on the campaign and in last place in the AFC East. They are one of three AFC teams that have been eliminated from playoff competition alongside the Jaguars and Houston Texans.

This surely isn't how Saleh envisioned his first season as a head coach unfolding, although New York could have a franchise quarterback in place after selecting Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft.

As for Sunday's game, the head coach said he reached out to Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who previously missed a game for COVID-19.

"He said Sunday is going to be miserable," Saleh said. "So I'm looking for misery."