Robert Saleh just printed a whale of a receipt himself.
“We’ll see these guys again,” the Jets coach told reporters after Sunday’s 20-12 loss at the Bills. And yes, he meant exactly what you think he meant. It was not of the magnitude of Joe Namath before Super Bowl III or Jim Fassel pushing his chips into the middle of the table, but that does not matter much. Saleh just said the Jets are going to the playoffs. And when they get there, he plans to get a rubber match with Buffalo.
Only one issue: Things look pretty bleak at the moment.
The Jets have fallen out of the AFC playoff picture thanks to their back-to-back road losses. If the Patriots beat the Cardinals on Monday Night Football, they will have two teams ahead of them for the final wild card spot. And that manageable final stretch of the schedule no longer looks favorable. The Lions are surging, the Jaguars seem to finally have a pulse, the Geno Smith Bowl in Seattle will be a test and then it could be a do-or-die Week 18 in Miami for both teams.
And while Mike White has been a clear upgrade from Zach Wilson, he has a ceiling. The Jets’ inability to steal a win from the Bills or Vikings the last two weeks speaks to it.
So if the Jets want to prove Saleh prophetic and close out this stirring season with a postseason appearance — and maybe even another tilt with the Bills — they will need to earn it. And that starts with having Saleh’s back in the face of strategic pressure. Again.
It feels like a lifetime ago, but remember: The Jets saved their season in Week 2 with the epic comeback in Cleveland. A result they desperately needed after Saleh’s infamous “receipts” rant. Saleh threw himself to the wolves in order to protect his team. He looked like he was becoming Joe Judge that week. But the Jets rallied around him and, soon after, they took off. The same has to happen again.
Sure, Saleh believes the Jets will make the playoffs. But that is not the point. He said what he said to shift the focus onto him and away from his struggling team. Now to see if lightning strikes twice.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]