The 2023 National Football League (NFL) season is only a week old, but it has already lost one of its superstars to injury. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon in his left leg in the opening minutes of the New York Jets versus Buffalo Bills game, and doctors have ruled out Rodgers from stepping onto the football field again this year. Rodgers’ injury is so severe that there is every chance that the 39-year-old has played his last professional game. Rodgers and New York Jets supporters are hopeful that is not the case.
This was meant to be the season that the New York Jets finally enjoyed a winning campaign, something they had not managed since 2015. After a much improved season in 2022, which saw them finish with a 7-10 record, and with Rodgers providing the team with some much-needed firepower, Jets supporters had everything crossed for seeing their beloved team return to the playoff fold for the first time in 13 long, arduous years.
Rodgers Should Have Been the Missing Piece of the Jets’ Jigsaw
Although entering the twilight of his career, Rodgers should have played a crucial part in any Jets success. The best online sportsbook for USA players slashed the odds for the Jets having a winning season and finally returning to the playoffs on the back of Rodgers leaving the Green Bay Packers and putting pen to paper on a three-year, $112.5 million contract.
The Jets have long craved an elite-level quarterback, and the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rodgers was supposed to be that man. However, after only four snaps wearing the famous green of the New York Jets, Leonard Floyd of the Buffalo Bills sacked Rodgers, and the end result was a season-ending torn Achilles tendon.
Heartbroken Rodgers Vows to Return
Jets medical staff feared the worst for Rodgers but had their fingers crossed that the injury was not as severe as they first thought. Scans the day after the game revealed the true extent of the damage, and a distraught Rodgers took to Instagram to thank fans and well-wishers.
“Thank you to every person that has reached out, called, texted, DM’d, connected through a friend, etc. It has meant a ton to me, and I’ll try to get back to all of you soon. I’m completely heartbroken and moving through all of the emotions but deeply touched and humbled by the support and love. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin the healing process today. The night is darkest before dawn, and I shall rise yet again.”
Could Rodgers’ Injury Spell the End of His Career?
There is much chatter about Rodgers potentially retiring from the game he has played professionally since 2005. Having undergone surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, Rodgers is expected to need between nine months and a year before he can resume training. He then has to get back to full fitness and rediscover his magic touch after 12 months on the sidelines. That would be a tall order for one of the up-and-coming quarterbacks, never mind one that turns 40 in December, has played more than 250 games, has thrown over 8,300 passes, and has been sacked by some giant defensive players 586 times; the last sack is the most damaging of his career.
Rodgers admitted that he was 90% sure of retiring at the end of last season before going into a dark retreat where he gathered his thoughts and decided to continue playing football. The fact that Rodgers was so close to calling it quits has added fuel to the rumor fire.
Although Rodgers is almost 40, he keeps himself in prime condition. Furthermore, he has not missed a game through injury since 2017 and played a significant part of the 2022 Packers campaign nursing a thumb injury.
Then there is the fact that Rodgers has only managed to win the Super Bowl once in his career, doing so in 2010 with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers is likely destined for a place in the NFL’s Hall of Fame, but everyone close to him knows he is itching for a second Super Bowl ring. If anyone is to defy the odds and return to the field, it is Rodgers.
What Next for the New York Jets?
The New York Jets management team and coaching staff believed Rodgers would stay for the entire 17-game season and propel them into the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. There was even talk about the Jets winning the Super Bowl, although even a fully fit Rodgers from ten years ago would have struggled to make that pipedream a reality.
Within five minutes of the 2023 season starting, the Jets were left with Zach Wilson calling the plays, a player who has struggled to live up to the promise he showed during his college days with BYU Cougars. The New York Jets drafted Wilson as the second overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft following the youngster’s stellar college-level performances.
Wilson was the Jets’ starting quarterback for much of the 2021 season despite not exactly setting the world alight. There were not any improvements in 2022, which saw the Jets fans boo their potential star man as the team slumped to a 19-3 defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wilson ended last season as the third-string Jets quarterback.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh was quick to heap praise on Wilson following the team’s 22-16 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills. Saleh revealed that the Jets are considering all of their options as the search for a Rodgers replacement begins but that the team currently belongs to Wilson and that everyone at the Jets has faith in the 24-year-old.
Whether or not Wilson manages to keep hold of his place in the starting line-up remains to be seen. As does the negative, deflating effect losing a player of Rodgers’ stature will have on the rest of the Jets team.