Jets season in turmoil as quarterback, Rodgers, handed season-ending injury
By Matthew DeMille, Sports Editor
For the first time in what seemed like decades, expectations were high for the New York Jets.
Having made several moves in the offseason, the Jets — who had hopes of making an NFL playoff appearance for the first time in 13 seasons —found themselves with a roster worthy of breaking their decade-long slump.
They improved their offence with the additions of running back, Dalvin Cook, and wide receivers, Randall Cobb, Mecole Hardman Jr., and Allen Lazard.
Last season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY), Garrett Wilson, and Defensive Rookie of the Year (DROY), Sauce Gardiner, were looking to make strides in their sophomore seasons.
Breakout running back, Breece Hall, was back following a torn ACL sustained in October 2022.
And most notably, the Jets acquired future Hall-of-Fame quarterback and modern-day superstar, Aaron Rodgers, in a trade with the Green Bay Packers during the offseason.
The Jets were finally ready for takeoff. Until they crashed.
In the first three minutes of their opening game against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets’ dreams of a successful season flipped to a future filled with horror.
Their prized possession and starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, left the game with an injury after just the fourth play in his debut with the Jets. In what looked like a routine drive, Rodgers, who was trying to evade a tackle, wound up being dragged down by Bills’ defensive end and pass rusher, Leonard Floyd.
After getting back to his feet and taking a few steps on his own, the long-tenured quarterback fell back to the field as he realized something was gravely wrong.
As the night progressed, the quarterback’s injury status became increasingly grim. Following a quick trip to the team’s pop-up medical tent, an injury cart was sent to take him back to the locker room. Soon after, Rodgers was seen wearing a compression boot on his left foot as he was shuffled into more rooms for further testing.
The next day, the Jets medical team confirmed the worst. Rodgers completely tore his Achilles tendon and would miss the remainder of the season.
The kicker—Rodgers’ absence from turf wasn’t as detrimental or immediate as was expected.
The team, instead, rallied behind the likes of wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Xavier Gipson, as well as safety, Jordan Whitehead, to pull off a come-from-behind, overtime victory against the Bills.
Wilson made a jaw-dropping catch in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, while Gipson was credited with a game-winning, 65-yard punt return in overtime. On the defensive-side, Whitehead locked down Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, with three interceptions.
However, with Rodgers’ season-ending injury coming four minutes into a season spanning over six months, the larger concern emanating from Jets organization was how the rest of the regular season will shape up for the team.
Now without their Super Bowl-winning and four-time NFL MVP quarterback, a majority of the Jets offence — for now — will be run by 24-year-old, Zach Wilson.
Known for producing a variety of results in past seasons, the decision to put the ‘pigskin’ in Wilson’s hands is a polarizing one.
Wilson, who was the second-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is still in the juvenile stages of his professional football career. Meaning, there’s much to learn if he wants to follow a similar route to his 39-year-old mentor, Rodgers.
Last season, in the nine games Wilson was the signal caller for the Jets, the Brigham Young University (BYU) alumnus finished 33rd among NFL quarterbacks in both pass completion percentage (54.5 per cent) and passing yards (1,688). His counterpart, Rodgers, finished 18th and 11th, respectively.
While the decision to slot Wilson in the starting quarterback role may have come as surprise to some, Jets head coach Robert Saleh is supporting the decision.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in Zach. We’re really excited about his opportunity, but we’re rolling with Zach and excited for this and excited for him,” said Saleh in a press conference following Rodgers’ injury announcement.
The decision isn’t permanent.
As the Jets dive headlong into the remainder of the regular season, there is still time to hash out a more concrete solution for their heartbreaking quarterback dilemma.
And, while a post-season starring the New York Jets is bleak, they cannot be ruled out yet. After all, they haven’t lost yet as of Week 1.