Why it’s time to pump the brakes on crowning the Jets this early

We are in happy season in the NFL. 

Everyone is undefeated. Everyone’s draft picks look amazing. The players coming back from injury look ready for a big comeback. The coaches have come up with new and exciting plans. Everything is rosy. 

Jets fans, you’ve been through this enough. May and June always feel good around here. It is November and December that usually hurt, and sometimes September and October, too. 

The optimism about the Jets has been overflowing this spring. The league gave them six prime-time games, believing they will be must-see TV. ESPN wrote an article predicting they would win the Super Bowl. 

The Jets know all about offseason banners and what can go wrong once the season comes. There are reasons to believe in this roster, starting with a healthy Aaron Rodgers under center. But I’m here to pump the brakes on the Super Bowl parade. Hey, someone has to. 

There are some things I can foresee tripping up this team as I’ve watched this spring. Here are four reasons the Jets might not be as good as people think: 

1. What if Aaron Rodgers is not the same Aaron Rodgers? 

I know this could be blasphemy. Look, Rodgers has been as advertised during this spring’s OTAs. He makes at least one throw in every session that makes you say, “Wow.” He has given the Jets’ social media team content for days with his no-look passes. 

Aaron Rodgers works out during Jets OTAs. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

But take a deep breath. This is spring. Rodgers is supposed to look like this when there are no pads and no pass rush. It would be an actual story if he didn’t look good. 

I feel like everyone is assuming the Jets are going to get MVP Rodgers from 2020 or 2021. But are we sure that is what they will get in 2024? His most recent MVP is now three years ago. His final season with the Packers was fine for most quarterbacks, but not Rodgers. His 12 interceptions were the second-most in his career, and his 26 touchdowns were his second-fewest in a season where he played at least 10 games. 

He missed all of last season with the torn Achilles, so now he is going to be coming back after a full season away and three years removed from a really good year. He is 40 years old. There will be a decline at some point. Just four quarterbacks have posted a passer rating of 80 or above once they hit 40 — Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Warren Moon. 

Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers works out with a medicine ball during OTAs in Florham Park, NJ. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Would it be a surprise if Rodgers joins that list? Absolutely not. But I also don’t think everyone should just assume a 40-year-old coming off a major injury is going to light up the league. 

2. Can they stay on the field? 

Health is an issue for every team in the NFL, but the Jets have a lot of key players returning from injuries, and at advanced age. Rodgers is at the top of the list. Can they keep him upright for 17 games? Tyrod Taylor is an upgrade at backup quarterback, but you still don’t want him playing more than 2-3 games, and he has durability concerns of his own. 

The biggest free-agent acquisitions all come with health concerns. Wide receiver Mike Williams is coming off a torn ACL. Tackle Morgan Moses had pectoral surgery after last season. Tackle Tyron Smith has not played 16 games since 2015. 

Tyron Smith inked a deal with the Jets this offseason. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

That is a lot of “if they can stay healthy” players on one roster. 

3. Should we trust the offensive coaches? 

Nathaniel Hackett has had a rough couple of seasons. The Jets were abysmal last year on offense in his first year as coordinator. His brief stint as Broncos head coach went about as bad as it possibly could. 

Rodgers has told Jets fans that they should believe in Hackett because he does, and they worked well together in Green Bay. But coach Matt LaFleur ran the offense for the Packers. Until we see the Jets offense actually flourish, it will be hard to put faith in Hackett or the entire offensive staff. 

Nathaniel Hackett’s offense struggled for almost all of 2023. Bill Kostroun/New York Post

4. What if the defense takes a step back? 

Besides Rodgers returning to form, it feels like the other assumption around this team is the defense will be great. It is tough to maintain the level of play this defense has, finishing in the top five in each of the past two years. It would not be shocking if there is a little dropoff this season. The defense lost Bryce Huff and John Franklin-Myers up front, and will try to replace their production with Will McDonald and Haason Reddick. 

It may work, but there is also a chance this defense slips. The other factor is this defense has stayed very healthy over the past few years. A few players have missed a few games, but there has not been a major injury that would test their depth. If that happens, can the defense survive it?

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