The Browns and Saints both played Week 15 without their head coaches due to COVID-19, and the Jets may do the same this Sunday. First-year coach Robert Saleh tested positive for COVID on Wednesday, the team announced. Tight ends coach Ron Middleton will assume acting head coach duties at practice, as the New York Post reported, and for Sunday's Week 16 game against the Jaguars in the event Saleh doesn't clear the NFL's COVID protocols by then. Along with Saleh, the Jets currently have 14 players on the COVID list, according to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.
The league's recently updated protocols allow fully vaccinated players and staff to "test out" of mandated isolation as soon as the day after a positive COVID test, provided he or she is asymptomatic for at least 24 hours. Saleh, who is part of a fully vaccinated staff in New York, could still be sidelined for multiple days, however, as evidenced by the COVID situation in Cleveland, where the Browns were forced to start emergency quarterback Nick Mullens on Monday thanks to prolonged unavailability from starter Baker Mayfield.
Saleh joins the Browns' Kevin Stefanski, the Saints' Sean Payton, the Bears' Matt Nagy, the Cardinals' Kliff Kingsbury and the Cowboys' Mike McCarthy as head coaches who've been forced into quarantine from COVID this season. His positive test also comes just days after Washington Football Team saw seven different assistant coaches sidelined due to their COVID outbreak.
Saleh's Jets (3-11) are currently marginal favorites in Sunday's upcoming matchup with the Jaguars.