With Aaron Rodgers injured, what do the Jets do now? | Genznews

The New York Jets were back to their 2022 script after just four plays with Aaron Rodgers in 2023. 

Rodgers suffered an ankle injury on the team’s opening drive against the Buffalo Bills. And still, their defense and special teams helped them pick up a 22-16 win in Week 1 in overtime.

The team ruled Rodgers out and released a statement that X-rays were negative. We’ll await the final diagnosis and recovery timeline.

[Jets fear Aaron Rodgers tore Achilles in Week 1 win over Bills: ‘It’s not good’]

In the meantime, Rodgers’ absence left the Jets with quarterback Zach Wilson under center. And while there was buzz that his game had evolved or developed or taken a step forward, it proved false. Wilson looks like the same jumpy passer with virtually no feel for the pocket and tremendous difficulty reading defenses.

But the Jets can win despite their quarterback. They spent 2022 practicing it.

The Jets kept it close with help from their defense. Safety Jordan Whitehead logged three interceptions vs. Josh Allen. Allen fumbled late in the fourth quarter. New York logged five sacks. Receiver Garrett Wilson might not have put up much in the way of numbers, but his touchdown, which tied the game, came on an absolutely terrible pass. He had to tip the ball away from the defender — and Wilson still managed to haul in the reception.

They didn’t want to have to win games like this in 2023. Rodgers was supposed to help the Jets look like a juggernaut, with newly sharpened teeth in the passing game to go with their already solid rushing attack and defense. But life ain’t fair — particularly for the Jets.

The Rodgers injury complicates … well, everything.

He looked gimpy on his feet when he was walking on his injured leg and spent the evening in a boot to protect his injured ankle. If he misses a short period of time, the Jets might lean on Wilson to fill the gap — though that seems like a risky idea given how much he has struggled during his career. He finished the night 14 of 21 for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Best of all, he didn’t even have to touch the ball in overtime, with the team scoring a walk-off touchdown on the punt return.

It was a herculean effort from defense and special teams to get Wilson a win. It’s hard to imagine him winning many games in their upcoming stretch: @ Dallas in Week 2, vs. New England in Week 3, vs. Kansas City in Week 4, @ Denver in Week 5 and vs. the Eagles in Week 6. Then they get what will likely be a much-needed bye.

They should consider their options. The current free agency pool includes: Nick Foles, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniel and Chad Henne. That’s not a group the Jets are slobbering over.

If the Jets were looking at a long-term absence from Rodgers — maybe even a season-ending injury — then New York could get more aggressive.

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Jameis Winston is the New Orleans Saints’ backup. Maybe that trade would be exploring, with Derek Carr looking good. Sam Darnold is the backup in San Francisco — though the 49ers probably aren’t going to trade him away, given Brock Purdy’s injury situation.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Tom Brady. That would be The Aggressive Decision. The quarterback just spent his Sunday enjoying a ceremony in front of New England Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium. It’s the longest of all long shots to imagine him playing again — let alone for the Jets. Can you imagine Brady going from that ceremony to a Jets uniform? Bill Belichick vs. Brady at MetLife? Too farfetched. It’s not happening. 

The Jets’ options are not pretty. There’s no obvious solution — whether Rodgers deals with a short-term or long-term recovery. 

But they’re in a win-now window. They have $10 million in space for 2023 — which could actually help them get a quarterback — but they have the 12th smallest amount of salary cap, a low sum of $18.7 million for 2024. And New York sent a conditional second-round pick in 2024 as a part of its trade package for Rodgers. (That pick becomes a first-rounder if Rodgers plays 65% or more of the team’s offensive snaps.) They already pushed most of their chips in. 

If Rodgers is set to miss time — a lot of it — maybe they just go all-in.

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @henrycmckenna.

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