Well, at least we all can get on with our lives now.
That includes Aaron Rodgers, the Jets, their fans, Pat McAfee, NFL “insiders,” Joe Namath, sportswriters, radio hosts and assorted other pundits around the globe.
It’s over at last, and it’s just as well for the good of Rodgers and the Jets as they focus on what really matters: 2024.
Whether Rodgers gasses up a private jet and spends the rest of the holiday season in Malibu or gamely continues to counsel the Jets in New Jersey, he now can stop thinking about playing on Christmas Eve and instead recalibrate to September.
Such is the state of the Jets after Sunday’s damp, dreary 13-8 loss to the Falcons at MetLife Stadium, which dropped them to 4-8 and out of any realistic hope for a playoff berth — Rodgers or no Rodgers.
It was ugly, as it usually is when the Jets’ offense takes the field, this time with Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian combining to make a mess of the quarterback position.
Afterward, coach Robert Saleh declined to share his thoughts on whom he might start against the Texans next week, but it does not matter at this point.
The vote here goes to Zach Wilson, who as bad as he looked as the next man up after Rodgers tore an Achilles tendon in the opener still is better than Boyle and Siemian. At least he can run away from trouble when necessary.
Assuming Saleh, general manager Joe Douglas, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Rodgers all are coming back next season, these last five games will be a good chance to evaluate young talent as the team looks to give it another try.
Risking all of that on a desperate comeback by Rodgers was questionable before the loss to the Falcons and now officially would be football folly.
The Jets have scored 10 offensive touchdowns in 12 games this season, the single most unfathomable statistic of their difficult-to-fathom season.
None of those touchdowns came Sunday, a day on which Breece Hall rushed 13 times for 16 yards, Garrett Wilson ran hither and yon — open but ignored — and the Jets’ only lead was fashioned by an early safety recorded by the defense.
Meanwhile, former Jets backup Joe Flacco started for the Browns on Sunday and looked highly competent, throwing for 254 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Rams. That development threw another unwelcome spotlight on the Jets’ post-Rodgers malpractice at the position.
All of this came one day after Rodgers’ 40th birthday, a reminder that we have no idea what he will look like next season. But we do know this: He will look better then than he would if thrown onto the field prematurely this month.
Saleh said the plan for Rodgers has not changed, that he will continue to work on his rehab and go from there. But of course it has changed.
Rodgers began sending signals during the week leading up to the game that he might not return after all this season, pending the Jets’ playoff outlook. Now he can bow out gracefully, having given it a heck of a try, and slow down the process.
No gas, all brakes.
Saleh was asked after the game if he has the personnel to succeed on offense, and he did not lie and say “yes.” Instead, he said this: “We’ve got to find a way to get the guys we do have better.”
That’s fair. And it is a worthy goal as the team switches to look-ahead mode now that the Jets have the same record as the Giants and no healthy quarterback as good as Tommy DeVito.
“We have to find ourselves, man; we haven’t found ourselves yet,” running back Dalvin Cook said. “We’re still searching for it. We have to get in the end zone. It’s just that simple.”
Garrett Wilson, who has been as visibly frustrated by the goings-on during this five-game losing streak as anyone, was asked if the offense’s struggles weigh on him.
“To the highest degree, bro,” he said.
Jets fans can relate, as can the Jets’ defensive players, who after a lull in late November were back in top form on Sunday — other than when they were committing key penalties, some of them questionable.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley, one of the team’s best and most respected players, spoke after the game about the long wait for something good to happen for the Jets.
“Every single year it feels like this is the time, this is the push,” he said. “But so far that hasn’t been the issue for us.”
Later, he added, “When that switch finally switches, it’s going to be all worth it.”
Perhaps so, but it is time to turn out the lights on 2023 and let the Aaron Rodgers Show go dark.