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Robert Saleh on final fourth down: Players deserved better than coaches gave them

The entire Football Night in America crew pays tribute to the life and legacy of the great John Madden as a coach, commentator and unparalleled NFL trailblazer.

The Jets had a 24-20 lead and faced a fourth-and-two from the Tampa seven-yard-line just before the two-minute warning at Sunday’s home game and they opted to go for it rather than extend their lead to a touchdown.

It was hard to argue with that decision, but the play call drew a lot of criticism. The Jets had quarterback Zach Wilson run a sneak that fell well short of the first down and the Bucs drove for a game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds left in the game.

After the game, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said the result “makes you sick” and because the team wanted a handoff to wide receiver Braxton Berrios on an end around but “we did a very poor job as a coaching staff communicating that in the huddle.” Saleh said that Wilson “executed the play the way it was designed” because he wasn’t told “hand this ball off no matter what” when offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur relayed the play call.

“They deserved better,” Saleh said, via Rich Cimini of “We won that game, and we’ve got to be better for our players.”

It had been a successful offensive performance for most of the afternoon, including the drive leading up to the fateful fourth down, and the communication issues will be something to work out as the Jets try to put together a more consistent offensive effort in 2022.