Aaron Rodgers shines as ‘beacon of motivation’ (and tipster) for Jets

A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. Uplifting presence: Early in last week’s game, Aaron Rodgers went over to defensive end Bryce Huff on the sideline and offered a pass-rushing tip: He told Huff that New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor, when under duress, has a tendency to run straight up the middle when escaping the pocket.

Heeding the advice, Huff bull-rushed on his next play instead of taking an outside rush — a change-up that enabled him to play the inside lane. Sure enough, he sacked Taylor as he scrambled up the middle. Huff gave a shoutout to Rodgers.

“He’s on the sideline, supporting us and being engaged,” he said. “It’s really cool because he’s always around, just providing the vibe and being a cool leader.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ presence in meetings and on the sideline has meant a lot to his Jets teammates. Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

With his words and presence, Rodgers is inspiring teammates. He rehabs his surgically repaired left Achilles in California, flies in for the games and heads back. It’s an unusual dynamic, rallying around an injured teammate. In the NFL world, injured players are often isolated from the rest of the team, virtually anonymous. Out of sight, out of mind. Not Rodgers, who wore a sideline headset in the past two games.

“Anytime he’s in the building, it is great, man,” defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson said. “His energy, his aura, it’s dope. We feel him. Even when he was on the sideline on Sunday, man, you feel the juice and love it.

“We see him in spurts. So we see him last Saturday [in the locker room] and he’s walking like nothing happened. It’s just a testament to the work he’s put in. That’s inspiring even in itself. His drive to get back out here with us, man, he a true competitor and true leader.”

Tackle Mekhi Becton said, “You can see the smile on everybody’s face when you see him come in the building, so it’s like an uplifting spirit whenever he walks in here.”

Several players said it’s motivating to see Rodgers throwing a football and doing abbreviated dropbacks in pregame warmups. It tells them that maybe, just maybe, he can return if they stay in the playoff race. Rodgers, injured in Week 1, has said his goal is to play again this season.

“He might be an alien,” Becton said. “That’s kind of crazy at his age, and the injury he had, to be recovered that fast. He’s a different kind of guy, for sure.”

Huff said, “Despite all the doctors and analysts saying that it’s not possible, he just continues to prove that he’s outworking the standards that everybody placed on him. So he’s definitely a beacon of motivation.”

General manager Joe Douglas said the team has no timeline for Rodgers. Make no mistake, this will be a big story next month.

2. Historic problems: The Jets’ third-down offense is the worst in the league (23% conversation rate). You might have known that already. But did you know it’s the worst in the past 45 years?

The Elias Sports Bureau can trace third-down rates as far back as 1978, and the Jets find themselves at the absolute bottom, slightly below the 2005 San Francisco 49ers (24%).

Asked to explain their historic woes, the Jets usually lean toward the clichéd response: Improve on first and second down to avoid too many third-and-long situations. While there’s a lot of truth to that, it’s not exactly the whole story. Frankly, they aren’t good in any third-down situations.

On third-and-short (3 yards or less), they’re an abysmal 3-for-16 (19%), which ranks 32nd. In fact, the next-closest team isn’t even in the same area code — the Cleveland Browns at 46%.

On third-and-medium (4 to 6 yards), the Jets are 9-for-25 (36%), a ranking of 25th.

On third-and-long (7 or more yards), they’re 8-for-46 (17%), 28th.

Get the picture? The problem stretches across the board — short, medium and long.

3. Something has to change: No matter how well the defense plays, the winning ways aren’t sustainable unless the offense plays better situational football, which means more efficiency on third down and in the red zone (32nd). Every week, the refrain from the Jets is the same: “We’re close” to a breakthrough. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is tired of hearing it.

“Close is never good,” he said.

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson said “we’re going to try some new things” on Monday night against the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC). Wilson is in favor of that, noting that what they’re doing isn’t working. He also said he can help the cause by getting open more consistently on third down.

4. Did you know? Zach Wilson leads all quarterbacks with three fourth-quarter comeback wins.

5. Standing pat: Despite obvious needs on the offensive line and wide receiver, Douglas didn’t make any trades at the deadline. Maybe he learned a lesson from last year.

Twenty-four hours after Breece Hall’s left ACL injury last Oct. 23, Douglas traded for a replacement running back, acquiring James Robinson from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Douglas was applauded for his aggressiveness. As it turned out, Robinson was ineffective. He arrived with a knee injury and was a total nonfactor. In retrospect, the Jets should’ve trusted rookie Zonovan Knight, who wound up outperforming Robinson. The trade cost them a 2023 sixth-round pick.

This time, Douglas is trusting the roster he assembled before the season, which means leaning on players such as wide receiver Xavier Gipson and center Joe Tippmann, both rookies, to play key roles over the second half of the season.

6. Blockbuster 2.0? The Jets made the biggest trade of the 2023 offseason (Rodgers). Could they do it again in 2024 with Rodgers’ BFF, wide receiver Davante Adams?

The Jets inquired about Adams before the trading deadline, a person familiar with the situation confirmed, fueling speculation about another run at him in the offseason. After this week’s shake-up, the Las Vegas Raiders figure to have a new regime in place. Perhaps they will be willing to listen to offers, which wasn’t the case this time. Perhaps Adams, frustrated in Vegas, will force the issue.

Adams, 30, is signed through 2026, but only his 2024 salary ($16.9 million) is guaranteed. A trade would make Rodgers happy, and the Jets are all about that.

The Jets’ Bryce Huff has at least one sack in each of the past three games. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

7. Sack streak: The Jets have had “informal” talks with Huff about a contract extension, Douglas said. Only 25 years old, playing a premium position, Huff is their No. 1 priority among their free agents-to-be.

He’s on a tear, having recorded a sack in three straight games. He attributed some of his increased production to a different approach. Instead of simply focusing on the offensive tackle, as he did in the past, Huff is more mindful of the quarterback and his tendencies.

8. Merry-go-round: With injuries piling up, the Jets will start their fifth different offensive line combination against the Chargers. They’ve already used eight different starters; a ninth (Billy Turner) could crack the lineup on Monday night. A year ago, 11 different players started on the line. Douglas admitted the lack of continuity is a source of frustration.

Remember the good old days? In 2009, the Jets started the same five in every game — D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody. That was a rare occurrence.

9. Good news, bad news: The Jets have been penalized only 320 yards, third fewest in the league. They’d be a lot better off if they could eliminate the personal fouls. They have committed a league-high six unnecessary roughness penalties. Linebacker Quincy Williams has been fined four times for a team-high $51,472.

10. The last word: “Goodness gracious, he’s the best punter I’ve ever been around in my life.” — defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who broke into the NFL as a player in 2000, on Thomas Morstead

Related Posts

Harnessing the Power for Men and Women

Welcome to the world of natural marvels! The plant showcased in the image holds immense potential and offers a plethora of health benefits. With its extraordinary healing properties,…

Revealing the Lotus Blossom’s Secret Solitude

The world of nature is home to a delicate and stunning beauty that represents aloneness. This beauty is embodied in the form of the lotus flower, an aquatic…

Uncover the Mysterious Charm of Emerald-Hued Roses

Green moss, an uncommon plant species, has a captivating charm that stands out in the world of flora. These one-of-a-kind blossoms represent growth, rejuvenation, innovation, and new beginnings….

Enhance Your innate beauty with Wildflower Hair: A revitalizing transformation

As life gets busier, more and more people are opting for natural ways to enhance their appearance, rather than relying on products that are filled with chemicals and…

Enchanting for Those Who Love Flowers: The World’s Largest Flower

The World’s Biggest Flower: Awe-Inspiring for Flower Enthusiasts

Revealing the Entertaining Characteristics of Uncommon Roses

Beyond being a representation of affection and grace, roses boast over 15 distinct variations that leave individuals spellbound and amazed. Every rose variation carries its own narrative, contributing…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *