Robert Saleh won’t take over defensive play-calling with Jets struggling

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The Jets have the worst defense in the NFL and it’s not even close.

New York has allowed a mind-boggling 175 points in its last four games. Three of its last four opponents have scored 45 points or more, while the Colts and the Bills have combined for 1,021 yards of offense in the last two weeks.

Robert Saleh cut his teeth building a top-tier defense with the 49ers before becoming a head coach, but he does not have designs on getting involved in the Jets’ defensive play-calling despite their recent struggles.

“We’re year one in the system,” Saleh said Monday. “[Jeff] Ulbrich and his staff are trying to figure this out, just as well as the players are. They’re going to hit a groove, too. Am I there to assist? Absolutely. Do I sit in on meetings? Absolutely. Is play-calling going to change anything? It’s not going to change anything. It’s execution.”

Saleh said from day one that New York’s defense is Ulbrich’s unit and he is sticking with that approach — for better or worse. It has been tough for the Jets to compete with their defense resembling a revolving door, and that reared its ugly head against the Bills. New York did not benefit from having Mike White throw four interceptions, but its defense could not consistently come up with key stops when it needed to despite a relatively strong start. It allowed Josh Allen to bounce back from a porous performance against the Jaguars with ease, and Buffalo’s rushing attack scored four touchdowns.

“For the most part, in that first half, we were playing some good ball,” Saleh said. “It was 10-3 with about 1:55 to go. Had some big-time stops and some bad situations. We get beat on a double move to start the two-minute drive, which sets up a touchdown, so they go into the locker room with a 17-3 lead.

“We get lapped, it’s 24-3, and the very next play we have a turnover. They score, which makes it 31-3 and the game’s over. It was a four-series sequence there where it kind of got out of hand, but we really liked the way we were playing for the most part. The first two drives of the third quarter were just not near anything we were doing in the first half. So, there’s a level of consistency that we’re lacking and obviously, we have to coach it a lot better.”

The Dolphins represent a softer matchup for the Jets this weekend, but New York’s secondary probably couldn’t stop 60-year-old Dan Marino with the way it has played recently. If its issues persist for another week, Saleh’s hand might be forced when it comes to assuming some play-calling duties.

Until then, it’s still Ulbrich’s defense to orchestrate.

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