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Penalty Problems Still Plaguing Saleh's Jets

New York has committed 26 penalties over the past two games, leading the NFL in miscues

It was another example of the breakdowns that have plagued the New York Jets throughout much of the NFL regular season. 

The Jets (6-10) were flagged for three times as many penalties as their Week 17 opponent. In a 37-20 loss to the Cleveland Browns on December 28, New York saw 12 penalties enforced against what has become the league's most-penalized team. Meanwhile, the host Browns endured only four penalties that backed them up a total of 26 yards.

“I have to figure it out. I have to figure it out," said Jets' head coach Robert Saleh about the team's frustrating penalty problem that was on display for a Thursday Night Football audience.

After averaging only 3.3 penalties per game over the first three weeks of the season, the Jets have unraveled into a league leader when it comes to committing infractions. Through 17 weeks, New York has been plagued by 148 accepted penalties. By comparisons, Jets' opponent have racked up 89 penalties combined over the 16 head-to-head matchups.

"Last year, I think we were top 10 in fewest penalties. This year, obviously, it hasn’t gone anywhere close to good enough," said Saleh.

The Jets' troubles have only grown in recent weeks. They are averaging 10.4 penalties per game over their most-recent five-game stretch. 

New York somehow escaped Week 16 with a 30-28 victory over Washington, overcoming 14 penalties for 150 yards in the process. Gang Green wasn't as fortunate against Cleveland four days later. 

"There’s a lot of things that we got to look at because a lot of the things that are happening are pre-snap, which is which is an alarming thing. We’ve got to find answers to it," said Saleh. "You’ve got misalignments, you got offsides, delay of games, you’ve got just a lot of things happening pre-snap that starts with us as coaches."

The Jets lead the league with 31 false starts in 2023. 

Starting left tackle Mekhi Becton was flagged for six infractions, including three pre-snap false starts, over the past two outings. Becton committed two holding penalties (one accepted, one declined) and one pre-snap mistake against Washington. He accounted for two more false starts and one holding call in Cleveland.

Becton, who is set to become a free agent this March, has committed a team-high 16 penalties this season, twice as many as any other Jet. The left tackle's transgressions have resulted in eight stalled drives for New York, which has struggled to score points week in and week out. Their 15.7 points per game ranks 29th out of 32.


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