The Jets’ defense is pumped about trying to stop Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. Todd Bowles, not so much.
“No,” Bowles said of the Packers’ quarterback before breaking into a hearty laugh, a rare sign of emotion from the stoic coach. “Not at all . . . You never look forward to going against the great ones.”
Facing a sure-fire future Hall of Fame quarterback can lead to many sleepless nights for a coach, especially one who could be overseeing his final home game Sunday.
Bowles and the Jets will end the season facing two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time — Rodgers and the Patriots’ Tom Brady next week.
Although Rodgers has thrown 23 touchdown passes to only two interceptions, some consider it a down season. The Packers are out of the playoffs and Rodgers is throwing the ball away more than he ever has. He also has been slowed by knee and groin injuries, but he wanted to finish the season out on the field.
The Jets expect him to be at his best against them, and they know how difficult it is to slow Rodgers.
“Can you play with 13 or 14?” defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “He’s still one of the best in the league. He’s still making all the throws, all the decisions and buying time and keeping plays alive. There’s just so many things that put pressure on you in so many ways.”
“You’ve got to hope he has a bad day,” Bowles said. “You’ve got to try to be disciplined and win up front. You’ve got to slow the other guys down as well. It’s not just him.”
The Packers won’t have their top back as Aaron Jones (knee) is out for the season. Jamaal Williams will take his place.
But Rodgers has a major weapon in receiver Davante Adams, who has 12 touchdown receptions and is only the fourth Packer to catch 100 passes in a season. Adams needs 13 in the final two games to set the team’s all-time record. Sterling Sharpe had 112 receptions in 1993.
Jets linebacker Avery Williamson said Rodgers’ relationship with his receivers also makes him special.
“He’s got a cannon for an arm,” he said. “He’s definitely a great quarterback. His receivers are trained to react to whatever he does. That’s what makes him so unique is the chemistry he has with his receivers.”