It took just four plays for the season to go completely sideways for the New York Jets when starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered an Achilles tendon injury on Monday Night Football. Coach Robert Saleh called it “not good” and made last year’s failed starter Zach Wilson “the guy” moving forward. The Jets were able to pull out a 22-16 overtime win over the favored Buffalo Bills on Monday night, but the good feelings from the upset victory may evaporate by Tuesday morning after the results from an MRI conducted on Rodgers are released.
Clearly, the Jets are expecting the worst and preparing themselves to play out the season with Wilson as their starting quarterback, who completed 14-of-21 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Bills. Now a third-year player, Wilson is 8-14 as a starter in the NFL and has thrown more career interceptions (19) than touchdowns (16). He’s not a great option, but Wilson is what the Jets — who saw their odds to win the Super Bowl plunge from 16-1 to 35-1 at Caesars Sportsbook following the injury to Rodgers — have.
The likelihood of Wilson stepping in and playing at a high level isn’t great, but if it happens, it actually might be a best-case scenario for the Jets; Rodgers, who will be turning 40 this year, was never a long-term solution for New York. True, Rodgers was a potentially elite short-term option but he was not the franchise quarterback the Jets have needed for decades. It’s not likely, but it’s at least possible that Wilson is.
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Rodgers, who is under contract with the Jets through 2025 and is being compensated handsomely, presumably will be around the team and fully engaged in helping Wilson and New York achieve success without him on the field. Based on the behind-the-scenes footage that was captured in Hard Knocks, Wilson and Rodgers have a good relationship, and the former is interested in learning what he can from the latter. It’s not what he was brought to New York to do, but if Rodgers can salvage Wilson and help make him into a halfway decent quarterback, the Jets will still be in a better place than they were last year.
Will it happen? Wilson’s track record in the NFL indicates not, but there’s always a chance that a torn Achilles tendon for Rodgers was the break he needed to finally get his career in the pros on track. “My heart goes out to him,” Wilson said. “It’s tough. It hurts us as a team. My job as quarterback is I’ve got to step up. I’ve got to be as efficient as I can in that offense…Trying to learn as much as I can from this guy, but I’ve also got to make sure I’m ready to go.”
Once the Rodgers news is confirmed, the Jets will definitely have to sign another quarterback in case Wilson struggles. There are some options: