Aaron Rodgers understands that he isn’t 100% as he tries to miraculously come back from an Achilles injury that seemingly cost his 2023 season in Week 1.
That doesn’t mean he’s not done trying to at least present the New York Jets with a spark to turn around the struggling franchise.
At 4-7, New York holds a 1% chance of making the postseason this year. Upcoming matchups against the playoff-contending Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and Atlanta Falcons could alter those plans as well. While Rodgers confirmed that it “wouldn’t make sense” to return in 2023 if the Jets are eliminated from playoff contention, he’s still doing everything possible to see if he can return this season.
Speaking to reporters following Thursday’s practice, the four-time NFL MVP confirmed that he would return for the 2024 season with Gang Green, but the fear of reinjuriong his Achilles this year doesn’t frighten him because he’s able to return again in the 5-6 months of the NFL offseason.
“My thing is, what’s the worst that can happen?” Rodgers said to Antwan Staley of New York Daily News. “Something unfortunate again and you just slow the rehab down. I think if you take the rehab slower and a little bit more deliberate, five months, six months max is probably the length to get back to 100% if you really take it slow. In my opinion, there isn’t a downside of coming back and reinjuring it.”
The Jets may feel confident that Rodgers can go out and perform at a high level despite being under 100%, but many fans and analysts have concerns that the quarterback practicing 77 days following his injury could mean that he is more likely to reinjury the Achilles, or do something far worse that affects his 2024 season.
To think about the 2024 season though is to first question if the overall structure of the organization will look the same. General manager Joe Douglas is in his fifth season with Gang Green and has yet to build a playoff roster yet. Missing out on Zach Wilson, the second overall pick just three years ago also hurts Douglas’ credibility as a GM around the league. Head coach Robert Saleh also has deatractirs out that believe his 15-30 record through this point is not worth bringing back next year.
Despite acknowledging that he has “no power” to make coaching or front office changes, Rodgers was clear in his defense of Saleh, Douglas, and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett by calling what Gang Green has as a “recipe in place to be successful,” as first reported by Connor Hughes of SNY.
“I feel like Joe’s drafted really well,” Rodgers said via Al Iannazone. “I feel like Robert is a fantastic coach, so is Nathaniel but those decisions are out of my hands.”
New York’s starting quarterback is expected to be fully healthy by the time the 2024 season rolls around, and has already defended the staff in place. It’s safe to assume everyone will be back regardless of how the rest of the season unfolds for the Jets.
Getting a four-time NFL MVP back on the playing field could certainly help their chances as well. While they need to remain in the race for the playoffs for that to happen, even Rodgers understands the very clear rule of sports:
“Anything is possible.”