Middleton will be tasked with running practice on Wednesday and presumably any day that Saleh is forced to miss. That includes this Sunday as Middleton will serve as the Jets' head coach against the Jacksonville Jaguars if Saleh is unable to be there.
Now, there's a chance that Saleh, who is vaccinated, will be able to test out of COVID protocols prior to Sunday's game. He will have to test negative and become asymptomatic (he's currently self-isolating with symptoms) prior to the game.
If not, it'll be Middleton receiving his first taste of head-coaching action at any level this Sunday. But who is Ron Middleton? What should Jets fans know about him?
What should NY Jets fans expect from Ron Middleton?
Middleton is a former NFL tight end who spent 10 years in the league from 1986 to 1995 playing for five different franchises. He enjoyed his most success in Washington where he started 45 of 62 games over five total seasons, although he was never much of a receiving threat.
Middleton had just 42 career catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns in 118 games played. He had just one season where he amassed more than seven catches, that coming in 1993 when he hauled in 24 catches for 154 yards in two touchdowns in what was easily the most productive year of his career.
After retiring, Middleton began coaching at Troy University in his home state of Alabama as a tight ends coach, offensive tackles coach, and assistant special teams coach.
He spent time at Ole Miss after that serving as their running backs coach, tight ends coach, and special teams coach before leaving to join the NFL in 2004 when he became the tight ends coach and assistant special teams coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Middleton returned home to coach at Alabama for one year in 2007 before leaving to become the assistant head coach/tight ends coach/special teams coach at Duke from 2008-2012.
His final stop before joining the Jets came when he was hired to be the tight ends coach and assistant special teams coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars — a role he filled from 2013 all the way through 2020.
Middleton survived two different coaching staffs and was the longest-tenured coach on the staff when he was let go prior to the 2021 season. Saleh and Middleton's history together dates back to Jacksonville where the former served as the Jaguars' linebackers coach from 2014-2016.
Middleton has a diverse background having worked with tight ends, running backs, offensive linemen, and on special teams which might be why he was chosen as Saleh's temporary replacement.
At 56-years-old, Middleton has never been the head coach of a football team at any level before, But that all could change if he's forced into action this Sunday against his former team.
Ron Middleton revenge game, anyone?