The Jets’ worst fears became a reality on Tuesday. Aaron Rodgers’ season is over. It ended only minutes after it began.
An MRI confirmed that Rodgers suffered a torn left Achilles in his Jets’ debut Monday night. The Jets were bracing for that.
Rodgers got injured on the Jets’ first series of their 22-16 overtime win over Buffalo when he was sacked by Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd. Robert Saleh said Rodgers will undergo surgery, but he doesn’t have details yet.
The four-time MVP’s season lasted just four snaps. The Jets officially put Rodgers on injured reserve.
An MRI confirmed that Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending torn left Achilles in his Jets debut Monday night.
Zach Wilson will be the Jets quarterback when the team faces the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday.
Robert Saleh said the Jets have “a championship-caliber defense” and they still believe they can compete for a playoff spot.
“He’s down,” Saleh said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “As you can imagine with everything that he’s invested and it lasting four plays, he’s obviously a little disappointed.”
The injury happened when left tackle Duane Brown tried to cut block Floyd, who bounced off and had a free run to Rodgers. He went down, stood up, looked at the Jets’ sideline, shook his head and then collapsed onto the turf, waiting for the medical personnel to run on the field.
It was chilling seeing Rodgers’ face as he looked at the sideline and how quiet MetLife Stadium got. His teammates were shaken as well.
“The league is better when Aaron Rodgers is on the field,” running back Dalvin Cook said. “It’s just bad that he went down so early so the people really didn’t get to see what we’ve been working on this whole time.”
Zach Wilson will be the Jets’ quarterback. Tim Boyle will be elevated from practice squad this week and serve as Wilson’s backup for Sunday’s game in Dallas. Saleh said the Jets will look to add another quarterback, but he said there would be no competition for the starting job.
“This is Zach’s team and we’re rolling with Zach,” Saleh said.
Losing Rodgers is devastating for a team and franchise that believed this could be a special year.
Everything the Jets did this offseason and training camp revolved around Rodgers. The offense they run was built for and by Rodgers with help from coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Rodgers’ resume and leadership raised expectations for the Jets. Having a four-time MVP gave them the belief that they would not only end their 12-year playoff drought, but they were legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Instead the Jets have a top defense, and they still have questions at quarterback. It feels a lot like last year.
But Saleh wasn’t in a “woe-is-me” mood. Rodgers’ season is over, but the Jets still have 16 games to play. Saleh said the Jets have “a championship-caliber defense” and they still believe they can compete for a playoff spot.
“I don’t know why people are trying to put an obituary onto our team name,” Saleh said. “Aaron is an unbelievable piece to this whole thing and we love him. But I think there’s 52 other guys in the locker room plus the 16 practice squad guys that believe that we can do a hell of a lot of good things here.”
The Jets showed resilience and heart by battling back to beat Buffalo, 22-16, in overtime. Their defense sparked it, getting four takeaways and five sacks Monday. Undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson ran a 65-yard punt back for a touchdown in overtime to end the emotional night on a high for the Jets.
It’s a major injury with a long recovery and certainly puts Rodgers’ future as a Jet in question.
Players who have suffered a torn Achilles often say they don’t feel like they’re back to themselves until the second year after the injury. Rodgers will be 40 years old in December. He’s the ultimate competitor and likely won’t want his career to end this way, but it will be a long road back for Rodgers.
“I’ll let him answer those questions,” Saleh said. “I did not get into the future of what he’s expecting or what he’s thinking. I think that’s a conversation tactfully left for another day.”
Saleh’s focus is on getting the Jets ready for Dallas and making sure they’re ready to succeed without their quarterback.
“We’re excited about our group,” Saleh said. “We’ve worked hard over the last couple of years, players, coaches, scouts, GM, building a pretty cool organization. There’s still a lot of faith in the locker room on the things that we can still accomplish this year.
“While the outside world and go ahead and write whatever story they want to write. There’s still the true story being written in this building.”