NY Jets head coach Robert Saleh spoke to the media following Saturday's practice and indicated that he was unsure whether or not to play the team's starters in Monday's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Saleh insisted that he was "torn" on the decision after a few days of successful joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons, the Jets' opponents on Monday. The decision is an important one for everyone involved.
While the Jets would love to get their starters additional reps heading into the regular season, Saleh likely doesn't want to put his players at risk of further injury, especially given the injury trouble the Jets have already run into.
Mekhi Becton was lost for the season following a knee injury suffered in practice. The Jets dodged a major bullet in their first preseason game after Zach Wilson's non-contact knee injury turned out to be nothing more than a bone bruise and a partial meniscus tear.
They've been snake-bitten by summer injuries in the past (see Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry, and Jarrad Davis last year). That's why there's only one correct decision for Saleh and the coaching staff. Don't play the starters on Monday.
Why the NY Jets should rest their starters against the Falcons
The argument in favor of playing the starters for at least a series or two does hold some weight. The Jets only trotted out their first-team offense and defense for two series last week. More importantly, the second preseason game is typically when the starters play the most.
It's rare to see many starters play much (if at all) in the third and now final preseason game. If Saleh were to rest his starters this week, it would likely mean that they wouldn't receive any live game reps until Week 1. That's not an ideal scenario, especially for a young team trying to build chemistry.
That said, the risk just doesn't outweigh the reward.
The handful of live reps the starters would play on Monday in a likely vanilla scheme doesn't move the needle enough to risk further injuries, especially to key players on the roster.
On top of that, perhaps the position group where chemistry is the most important — the offensive line — won't even be able to build that chemistry on Monday with Duane Brown expected to sit out.
Saleh seemingly changed his mind at the last minute last week opting to rest the likes of Carl Lawson, C.J. Mosley, George Fant, and others despite insisting that all his team's starters would play. It's not a surprise to find him unsure of his decision 48 hours before this week's game.
Regardless, the decision here should be straightforward. The Jets can't afford to risk injury to the important players on their roster, not after what they've already been through.
Rest the starters, let them get their reps in during joint practices, and let's go into the regular season with as healthy of a roster as possible.