December 2, 2023

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh and key veteran leaders had no problem with injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers — in absentia — calling out the team for its sideline squabbles. They agreed with his take.

“He’s right, man, you can’t blow up and show our frustration on the sideline — especially on the sideline,” cornerback D.J. Reed said Wednesday.

Rodgers, rehabbing a torn Achilles in California, said Tuesday on the “Pat McAfee Show” that the Jets “need to grow up a little bit” and “hold our poise a little bit better.” He said the team — losers of two straight — must do a better job of handling negativity.

Saleh said he had no issue with the long-distance commentary.

“He’s as much of a coach as he is a player, and he’s been around youth and he’s been around adversity, and he’s seen it all,” Saleh said. “So for him to recognize that and talk through it, I think he’s not wrong in that when you have frustration, it’s easy to look for answers when sometimes the most important answer is inward.

“As it pertains to what he said, he’s not wrong,” he added. “But at the same time, it’s just a bunch of young guys showing a little frustration, but they’ll be all right.”

During the Jets’ 15-10 loss to the New England Patriots, running back Michael Carter and wide receiver Garrett Wilson were engaged in animated discussions with assistant coaches. They were caught on camera, fueling the perception of dysfunction. Both players downplayed the incidents, chalking them up to heat of the moment emotions. Center Connor McGovern didn’t mind Rodgers’ comments.

“Yeah, he’s trying to be encouraging,” McGovern said. “We shouldn’t be having scuffles on the sideline, whether it’s positive or negative. It brings the wrong energy. If it comes off in that kind of demeanor, it can cause panic and you just don’t need that around.”

Rodgers became the leader of the team as soon as he arrived from the Green Bay Packers in April. His Week 1 injury took him away from the team, but he still wants to stay involved even though he’s 2,800 miles away. He’s a member of the Jets’ leadership council, comprised of key vets, and he contributes to the council’s group text with weekly words of encouragement and motivation, according to players.

But it’s an unusual dynamic to have an injured player, outside the building and with such a high-profile platform, to share weekly thoughts on the team. Saleh doesn’t see it as an unhealthy situation.

“No, that’s not going to be an issue,” he said. “I don’t think it should be. He’s part of this team, and he’s got thoughts, and I think he does a really good job articulating those thoughts in a manner that’s respectful.”

Reed said they appreciate Rodgers’ leadership, whether he’s present or on the other side of the country.

“Oh, for sure,” Reed said. “Aaron, he definitely left an imprint in this locker room. We have the utmost respect for Aaron and whatever he says. Everybody listens.”

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