NFL insider notebook: Robert Saleh gets an assist to avoid dubious Jets mark, plus Week 17 picks

Robert Saleh avoided the worst record for a first-year head coach in Jets history by … not coaching last week.

Saleh is now officially 4-11 as HC of NYJ, but it was Ron Middleton who was manning the sideline in last week’s win against the Jaguars due to Saleh being in COVID-19 protocols. Because the worst first-year coaching record in Jets history is 3-13, the fourth win of the season helped the Jets avoid a 3-14 record that would produce the worst winning percentage in Year 1 for a head coach.

I checked in with the league office this week to confirm that head coaches who miss games due to COVID (or other illness) still get credit for the wins and losses of their team. And unlike teams who have fired their head coach in-season and roll with an interim for the remainder of the year, those wins and losses do get credited to the permanent head coach.

“The wins and losses are assigned to the person who is the recognized head coach of the team,” a league spokesman wrote in an email. “So in the case of a coach missing a game or games due to illness, it still goes to the individual who has the title of head coach because they are ultimately returning. If a coach is dismissed, the wins and losses are credited to the interim head coach.”

So what Rich Bisaccia does with the Raiders doesn’t impact Jon Gruden’s .511 career winning percentage. But Middleton — and other coaches who have filled in for the boss during COVID — doesn’t officially get the credit for his victory.

This year there have been six games coached by what I’ll call temporary interims, where the head coach has been sidelined due to COVID protocols and an assistant has stepped up for one game only. Interim coaches are 4-2 in those games: Middleton, Dan Quinn (Dallas), Dennis Allen (New Orleans) and Jeff Rodgers/Vance Joseph (Arizona) all won their respective games while Mike Priefer (Cleveland) and Chris Tabor (Chicago) lost…

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