Robert Saleh watched the Jets-Jaguars game on Sunday from a New Jersey hotel room, still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Saleh has been in this room he calls “my little locker” since Wednesday. As far as they know, no hotel guest has complained about the noise coming from their room, even after the Jets’ goal line in the dying seconds took a 26-21 victory over the Jaguars.
The victory made Saleh miss the game a bit more easily.
“It was frustrating,” he said via Zoom from that same room on Monday afternoon. “Just, one, not being there. It seemed like a great game. The guys played hard. But at the same time, it was great to see the end.
“It was a weird experience. At the end of the day, it was a cool experience because we won.”
Saleh said he is feeling a lot better and that all of his levels are moving in the right direction. He hopes he will be cleared to join the Jets in “the next few days.”
During the game, Saleh was FaceTiming with Packers coach Matt LaFleur, brother of Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Matt LaFleur was also watching the Jets game, but his lead was about five seconds.
“I’m yelling at him to stop telling me what happened,” Saleh said.
During that call, Zach Wilson threw the one-yard touchdown pass to offensive lineman Conor McDermott who gave the Jets an eight lead in the fourth quarter.
LaFleur did not warn Saleh in advance. He just said, “Oh,” and Saleh knew something was going to happen.
“When he grabbed it, I was just laughing, like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this has happened,’” Saleh said.
It was a courageous performance for the Jets, who had 20 players on the COVID-19 roster and were without six starters in defense and two on the offensive line.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said the thing he will remember the most this week is wondering if he will be added to the roster.
“You just never knew if it would be you,” Rankins said. “There were times we were there practicing and all of a sudden some coaches or staff would come looking for guys off the pitch because they were positive.”
Saleh praised everyone’s performance on Sunday. He believed interim coach Ron Middleton had done a terrific job and followed the plan to be aggressive. The Jets went there five times in fourth, converting three of them.
Middleton also ignited the squad with what he said at halftime.
“I think he did a great job keeping the energy on the sidelines, keeping everyone engaged,” Saleh said. “When you get the W, you are the man.”
Saleh also liked the way Wilson played. He ran 91 yards on four carries, including a 52-yard touchdown, and threw big throws.
The biggest came third and -9 on the Jets’ last practice. Wilson quickly got rid of the ball at Braxton Berrios for a 12-yard gain to keep the series alive and establish a basket.
“I will chat with [Mike] LaFleur that it was probably the best throw he has made all season, ”said Saleh. “It was awesome. Clutch kick. . . Clutch socket. ”
The Jets have rushed for 273 yards, the NFL’s highest total this season, on 36 carries.
“If we need Ron Middleton in Mike’s ear to yell at him to throw the ball more,” said Saleh, “I’ll be more than happy to give him the helmet when the attack is over.”
Saleh couldn’t have been happier with the fight his team has shown in his absence despite the absence of many key players.
“It was a really cool thing to see,” he said. “It is a testimony of this group and it is a testimony of [general manager] Joe Douglas and the men he brought into that locker room. It’s a young group and it’s an exciting group. It’s definitely something to build on. “