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Photo courtesy of Billboard.
The Holdovers Review
February 20, 2024

What’s Next for the Jets After Rodgers

Photo courtesy of DraftKings

 The air was sucked out of Metlife stadium when Aaron Rodgers fell back to the ground during Monday Night Football against the Bills. At that moment, every Jets fan thought the same thing: the same old Jets. The three words that had plagued the franchise for decades were coming back to haunt them. After all of the anticipation during the speculation of whether or not the trade would be made, the thrill of watching Rodgers integrate himself into the team on Hard Knocks, all built up into one game. A season where Rodgers looked to take the Jets to the promised land ended 5 plays into the game. To put this in perspective, Rodgers spoke out to the media announcing that he planned on playing for the Jets on March 15. The Jets season opener was on September 11, making it exactly 180 days between Rodger’s announcement and the day he went down. That is half a year’s worth of build-up for Jets fans only to be crushed in three minutes of real time. 

The Jets seemingly recovered after the injury, as they went on to beat the Bills in overtime with help from an excellent defensive performance and a game-winning punt return for a touchdown by rookie Xavier Gipson. However, there were still many question marks about third year quarterback Zach Wilson. After being taken with the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 draft, Wilson severely underperformed expectations, leading to jeers from the crowd and an eventual benching. In weeks two and three, Wilson put up abysmal numbers, going a combined 30/63 on completions for 327 yards and 1 TD with 3 interceptions in losses to the Cowboys and Patriots. However, Wilson played the best game of his career in week four against the defending champions in the Chiefs, putting up 245 yards on 28/39 attempts with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Wilson looked like the guy they drafted, orchestrating long drives without hesitation and making tough throws. But, on what became the Jets’ last drive of the game, while moving the ball up the field, Wilson fumbled the snap and it was recovered by the Chiefs. This play ended up costing the Jets the game.

In the most recent game against the Broncos, Wilson played a solid game by his standards, with under 200 yards on 19/26 completions. However, when he needed to seal the game away, once again Wilson turned the ball over on a bad throw for an interception. Luckily for him, the Jets defense caused a turnover which led to a game-sealing touchdown on a scoop-and-score.

This leaves the Jets at a crossroads. They are currently sitting at 2-3 with a tough schedule ahead and many question marks around the team. The upcoming schedule is going to be difficult as well, with the upcoming games against the Eagles and Giants. If the Jets want to make it to the playoffs this year and end their twelve-year drought, they will likely have to win a minimum of two of these games. The quarterback situation without Rodgers is dire, regardless of Wilson’s performance on Sunday night. The Jets currently have veterans Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian on the active roster and practice squad, giving the Jets a little bit of added depth. However, head coach Robert Salah has said multiple times that they are sticking with Wilson until further notice. While the team could trade for a quarterback, it is highly unlikely for them to do so. The best case scenario for the Jets at this time is that Zach continues to improve as he did in week four. Rodgers claimed in a pregame interview that he would be back before the season ended, a recovery time that is unheard of for an achilles injury. Even if Rodgers made a miraculous comeback, it is very unlikely that the team would let him see the field.

The Jets had their season flipped upside down just minutes into its beginning. With Rodgers out for the foreseeable future, Zach Wilson has to step up and perform in a way that leads to wins. The question for Robert Salah is: what do you do if Wilson doesn’t step up to the plate?

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