With much on the line for the New York Jets after signing four-time quarterback Aaron Rodgers in late April, there was much anticipation for the opening Monday Night Football kickoff where the Buffalo Bills took on the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium. Unfortunately for the Jets, that anticipation turned to shock as Rodgers went down and did not return to the game after his fourth snap of the game.
Since X-rays came back negative, an MRI showed a complete tear in Rodgers' left Achilles tendon, which will sideline him for the remainder of the season. Rodgers' injury raises many questions about his future and the future of the Jets.
While many regard Rodgers as one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has seen in the past decade, the 39-year-old's age becomes a factor when considering his future with New York and the NFL. Even though Rodgers' production has rarely faltered, throwing for 4,000+ yards in four of his last five seasons with the Packers, only slightly dipping in 2022, where he threw for 3,695 yards. The Jets must now rely on third-year Quarterback Zach Wilson, who threw for only 1,688 yards in the 2022 NFL season.
Although Wilson did split snaps and sit games for backup quarterbacks Mike White and Joe Flacco, his activities off the field have tainted his reputation as a talented quarterback prospect out of college. Besides Wilson's extracurricular activities, he has thrown for only 16 touchdowns in his career after his opening game of the 2023 season and a whopping 19 interceptions. Wilson's professional performance is the complete opposite of his junior season at Brigham Young University, where he threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, and only three interceptions, leading the Cougars to an 11-1 season. BYU's 11-1 record included a win over the University of Central Florida in the Boca Raton Bowl, where Wilson threw for a season-high 425 passing yards and three touchdowns.
The second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Zach Wilson, and the New York Jets must hope for Wilson to play as he did in college, where he was a highly productive, remarkably recruited quarterback, if the Jets want to have the exact expectations they did for the season before Rodgers' injury. While Wilson's performance in previous seasons has not been up to par, in Monday night's victory against the Bills, he threw for 140 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Wilson will be a solid quarterback for the Jets if he can limit his interceptions and rely more on the run game of Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook, who combined for 160 yards rushing in their season opener.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Jets; their defense played lights out against the Bill's franchise quarterback, Josh Allen, limiting him to 236 passing yards and a touchdown. They also sacked Allen five times, intercepted him three times, forced him, and recovered his fumble late in the fourth quarter of a tight game. While Wilson's performance wasn't stellar in this low-scoring defensive battle, the Jets' defense kept their team in the game and eventually captured an overtime victory. Even though Jets fans may be disappointed about the injury to Rodgers, their defense put on a show against one of the highest-scoring offenses in 2022.
All things aside, the Jets emerged victorious in overtime with a hard-fought battle with the Bills in Metlife Stadium. Putting aside the fact that Rodgers is out for the season, the Jets defense played their hearts out to keep their team in the game, and special teams showed up significantly when Jets undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson returned a walk-off 65-yard punt return to seal the game. While Wilson's performance was not outstanding, there is hope for the third-year QB with Rodgers in his pocket as his mentor. Not all is lost as the Jets travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on September 17.