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Robert Saleh Has Confidence in Jets OC Mike LaFleur Despite NY's Offensive Struggles

Doric SamJanuary 2, 2023

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 01: Head coach Robert Saleh of the New York Jets looks on against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of the game at Lumen Field on January 01, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The New York Jets have struggled mightily on offense throughout their five-game losing streak, but head coach Robert Saleh isn't ready to give up on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, Saleh "still has full confidence" in LaFleur despite the recent offensive woes.

The Jets fell to 7-9 and were officially eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday's 23-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. New York has gone eight straight quarters without reaching the end zone and has only scored a total of four touchdowns during its five-game skid, one of which came via special teams.

While this recent stretch has been disappointing for a team that had a 5-2 record through seven games, Saleh pointed out that the franchise is in the second year of "a commitment to go young everywhere—coaches, players, staff, everybody. It's so important to take a deep breath ... and make sure we're telling ourselves the truth rather than allowing narrative and panic to set in."

When Saleh was hired prior to the 2021 season, the first major move he made for his staff was hiring LaFleur after they spent time together as assistants under Kyle Shanahan with the San Francisco 49ers. The 36-year-old is the younger brother of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, whom Saleh considers a close friend.

The Jets failed to make significant improvements in their second season under the current coaching regime, ranking 27th in scoring this year after finishing 28th in scoring in 2021. Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson regressed and was benched twice this season, putting his NFL future in question.

However, Saleh doesn't believe LaFleur is solely to blame for the team's offensive ineptitude. He said it's important to "not come away with knee-jerk reactions that would derail what could be a pretty damn good football coach—or a good player, for that matter. That's where Zach comes into play."

Saleh pointed to his own experience on the hot seat after the 2018 season when he was defensive coordinator of the 49ers, noting that Shanahan didn't give up on him, and they won the NFC championship the following year.

"I've been in [Mike] LaFleur's shoes," Saleh said. "It would've been very easy for Kyle to fire me, very easy to say, 'You know what? We went 4-12, you're the scapegoat, get the heck out of the building.' But to his credit, we sat down ... he committed to me, and the rest is history."

The Jets will close out the regular season on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (8-8), who have also lost five straight games.