What this means for the future of the Jets & their QB
Published by: Bear Acuda
NY Jets QB Aaron Rodgers (8) gets carted off the field Monday Night after tearing his achilles against the Buffalo Bills, a season-ending injury.
All it took was four offensive snaps, and the dreams of tens of thousands of Jets fans sitting helplessly inside MetLife Stadium of a championship in February of 2024 (their first & only since legendary QB “Hollywood” Joe Namath) were dashed.
More like crushed; destroyed; annihilated.
I’m sure there was a sick pleasure by Packers fans/Rodgers haters who took a brief enjoyment watching him get carted off the field Monday night. Packers fans had seen the movie before; Legendary face of their franchise leaves them for seemingly brighter (only because of the flash photography of the paparazzi) pastures of The Big Apple.
And similar to their last QB epic, their former hero flamed out hard-core in the Meadowlands. After the injury reverberated through social media, and the dust settled defining Rodgers future this season, like myself, many of us Rodgers haters felt a certain kind of shame & remorse for our lack of compassion at the point of attack. Once we realized it meant an injury that could cost him his career, we felt unsettled from cheering on the pain of another human.
The future HOFer was already scrambling for his life minutes into the first quarter with his new team. I predicted in the preseason that this would be a recurring theme for Rodgers; his O-Line would be suspect at best, he would be miserable running for his life all season (dreaming of the days when he had the likes of a Bulaga or a Bakhtiari protecting his blind side), & would have a sideline meltdown by Week 8 (shedding the “World’s Best Teammate Award” image he was carefully cultivating during HBO’s Hard Knocks.
What I didn’t predict (but probably should’ve) was a team cursed by failure doing what a team cursed by failure does. I didn’t have the clairvoyance to see Rodgers accumulating a potential career ending injury four snaps into his 2023 season. In all honesty, I saw him accumulating 2 TDs & about 250 yds through the air before I saw him imploding the Jets season.
At first, I thought he was faking it; going full-Rodgers Diva mode.
“Typical Aaron. Such a diva. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s pulling himself out of the game to send a message to his O-line that this lack of protection will not suffice. He knows all the cameras are on him; he’s going full VH1 Basketball Wives drama.”
But I was wrong. So, unfortunately, wrong.
You could literally feel the air going out of the Hope balloon from the television broadcast; the balloon that fans, players, staff, the ticket guys….all the Jets faithful helped to inflate leading up to the opening game of MNF. It was absolutely the second-worst case scenario that could’ve happened that night, second only to a terrorist attack at MetLife Stadium (a car-ride away from where the Two Towers once stood) on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11.
Now, the ladder is an egregiously worse situation than the former, but that’s how heart-breaking the Rodgers injury was to NYC. And let’s be honest, NYC needs something to cheer about; their city is a burning dumpster fire. Criminals & the mentally ill have overrun the streets, where the criminals aren’t, illegal immigrants are, everybody is angry (nothing new), but it has fallen back into a pre-1980s de-evolution. Aaron Rodgers joining the NY Jets was supposed to be the one glimmer of hope giving the citizens of NYC a much needed break from their daily turmoil.
What’s Next For The Jets?
The one positive Jets fans can cling to is knowing their defense is nails. Last night, they forced one of the elite NFL QBs to an abysmal evening, throwing 3 INTs, fumbling the rock in crunch time (allowing the Jets to tie the game), and adding another losing notch on his overtime career belt (now standing at a perfectly imperfect 0-5). Their defensive line is arguably the best & deepest (Washington has something to say), they have all-pro talent at each level (DT Quinnen Williams, MLB C.J. Mosely, CB Sauce Gardner), and missing Rodgers in the lineup will only further solidify their physical identity of playing defense, running the ball, playing sound/mistake free football, & controlling the clock.
They still have high target acquisition RB Dalvin Cook who is an absolute beast. The problem with that is they also have a budding superstar in RB Breece Hall who took the bulk of the carries down the stretch. For an established superstar like Cook, playing second fiddle to a second-year player coming off an ACL injury is not something he’s used to. Most likely, he will be a depreciating asset overall & an eventual toxic teammate because all work & no PT makes Dalvin a dull boy.
The biggest question mark obviously comes at the QB position; mainly with former franchise QB Zach Wilson, but also the uncertain future of replacement Face of the Jets Aaron Rodgers. Wilson looked to be the biggest beneficiary of the Rodgers acquisition. During Hard Knocks, he & Rodgers looked to be building a chemistry (dare I say “relationship”). The trajectory of the former BYU QB seemed to be ticking upwards, as he would be relieved of the immediate pressure that comes with being a franchise QB in a result-oriented league in exchange for him becoming the Padawan to Rodgers’ Jedi mind tricks.
Rodgers seemed more than approachable, even eager, to help Wilson smooth down his rough edges. But fate would intervene, thrusting Wilson back into the starting role. His brief break from the pressures of a starting QB in the New York media market (a market not known for their patience, nor compassion) was to end early in the first quarter into game one of the Jets’ season.
So the real question is can Wilson embrace the moment?
NFL QBs rarely get multiple chances at leading a talented team, especially when the previous chances are littered with mistakes, failures, & shortcomings. This will most likely be the last opportunity Wilson has to lead a legit championship-calibur team. The NFL is not forgiving, and should Wilson blow this opportunity, he will most likely be type-cast in the backup role for the rest of his career.
Fair or not, these are the cards Wilson was dealt. So, can he take what he’s learned in the brief time he was Rodgers’ backup & turn it into a career year using the pressure similar to the way coal utilizes pressure, turning him into a diamond? Or, will Wilson crumble under the high expectations of team & fan-base touting…..rather, demanding a championship?
As for Aaron Rodgers, his fate is unknown. At the moment, the only certainty is he tore his achilles tendon & is guaranteed to miss this season, at a minimum. Achilles’ injuries are up there with the worst of all; an injury so bad, the B.C. Greeks invented a story surrounding one half-man/half-god whose only weakness was a blow to his achilles. Rodgers very well may not recover from this injury, and is almost certain to not come back the same.
At his age, Father Clock is not on his side. Even if Tom Brady proved NFL QBs could play into their 40s at a high level, Brady kept relatively healthy (thanks to his emphasis on pliability training). Rodgers, on the other hand, is as likely to lick a toad & fall back into the arms of a blue-haired witch as he is to put everything he has into ensuring he comes back next season at the top of his game.
If I were the Jets, I would find out what sweat lodges Rodgers frequents and bribe their shamans to say that Brother Bear or Mother Eagle told them his destiny “lay in a land of meadows.” Maybe they could convince Blu of Earth (that’s what she actually goes by) to rekindle their drug-induced romance. Ya know, dose him with some of her witch’s brew; get her to take a few for the team.
She seems like a generous gal. Very loving.
Either way, with all the unknowns surrounding Rodgers, nothing should be off the table. As for the Jets, I’ll be shocked if they get past the divisional round with Wilson at QB.
Best of luck, J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS.