New York Jets athletic trainers examine Aaron Rodgers following a sack against the Buffalo Bills.
On September 11, on just the fourth play of a Monday Night Football game against a division rival in the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a sack on a first and ten at the Jets 43-yard line. He then had to be helped off the field. What ensued afterward would be a night of every emotion in the book for Jets fans. From being down 13-3 going into halftime to taking the lead with 1 minute 48 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, to undrafted wide receiver Xavier Gipson completing a 65-yard punt return touchdown, it was a game to remember for some Jets fans. For others, however, this would be a night defined by one sentence from Head Coach Robert Saleh following the game: “The MRI is probably going to confirm what we think is going to happen, so prayers tonight… But it's not good."
It was not. Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles tendon from the incident on the field. Despite repeatedly committing himself to the rehabilitation process and hopefully returning in what is now the unlikely event of a Jets playoff berth, this severe injury could be career-ending for Rodgers given his age.
This is the nightmare scenario for the Jets fans. As someone who has rooted for this team for their entire life, it is not the injury itself that pains me, it is all the hope that I had coming into this season of having a future hall-of-fame quarterback possibly lead the team to the playoffs for the first time in over ten years suddenly getting ripped out of my grasp in the span of one freak play that kills me. Enough of me, though, it might be better to just look more into the broader implications of Aaron Rodgers’ injury:
1. The Jets are not going to win the Super Bowl. Plain and simple, to compete with AFC (American Football Conference) heavyweights including the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and Baltimore Ravens, a great defense alone is never going to be enough to win games against tough opponents. Barring a major improvement in quarterback play from Zach Wilson or any other quarterback the Jets may bring into the mix, the offense might not be enough for them to compete deep into the season.
2. The Jets need to step up in every phase of the game to remain relevant. The defense speaks for itself with names including cornerbacks Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and DJ Reed, safety Jordan Whitehead, linebackers Quincy Williams and C.J Moseley, and a strong defensive line with fan-favorite Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and Carl Lawson. The offense is loaded with talents including wide receivers Garett Wilson, a resurgent Randall Cobb, Alan Lazard, and returning running back Breece Hall. However, the offensive line, a unit berated throughout the offseason and partially blamed for Rodgers’ injury and Zach Wilson’s poor play, will need to step up to ensure better quarterback play throughout the season.
3. The Jets could bring in another quarterback, but not quite yet. Apart from Rodgers, previously mentioned Wilson is the only other starting-caliber quarterback on the roster. The question is: if the Jets should bring in a capable veteran to aid Wilson should his struggles continue? Names including Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, or Case Keenum could float around the Jets front office, but the transition would not be seamless, and any of these options would take time to adjust to a new offense.
In short, there is no nice way to put this unfortunate situation the Jets find themselves in.
As a Jets fan myself, I am still left wondering if this team is truly cursed. For the first time in my life, I felt as if the football season was going to be the highlight of my weekend every weekend of the fall. Unfortunately, though, that happiness did not last long. The best thing to do at this point is to wait and see what happens for the next 13 weeks of the season.