Jets pump brakes on 2023 Super Bowl aspirations

Jets Aaron Rodgers injury
CORRECTS CITY AND STATE – New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) speaks with team personnel after performing weighted drills that led to favoring his lower legs at the NFL football team’s practice facility, Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photos

FLORHAM PARK — Aaron Rodgers’ arrival to the New York Jets has brought plenty of excitement, energy, and expectations. For the first time in over a decade, Gang Green is a Super Bowl contender and everyone around the sports world has an opinion if the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback can get them there. 

But as the calendar turns to June, and OTAs begin to wind down, it’s evident that inside the halls of 1 Jets Drive, there is a different feel to the organization. Expectations and energy still course through the building, but the focus has shifted not to what they could become but to what they actually are now. 

“It’s not arrogance. Every team wants to win and expects to win a championship. But you have to have the discipline to bring it back and that’s where messaging comes in. You have to remind everyone of what we’re doing at this moment,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday. “If we’re not doing what we need to do today, none of it matters.”

Saleh’s messaging helps with the strong core of veterans that have been on the roster for multiple years now. Players like CJ Mosley and Laken Tomlinson have had plenty of playoff success with other teams around the NFL, but offer a fresh and unique take that leaves other young players learning from them. 

“You go to go one day at a time. Right now we’re in OTAs and we’re learning the x’s and o’s. We have to go back to ground zero a little bit,” Tomlinson explained. “All the outside stuff, yeah we hear that stuff but we’re not really listening to it. It’s our locker room and we see where this team’s going.”

Tomlinson was a part of the San Francisco 49ers team that made the Super Bowl in 2020 and was the lone healthy, and consistent member of the Jets offensive line in 2022. 

But even Tomlinson’s experience pales in comparison to that of Aaron Rodgers. The trade that brought Rodgers to New York has been talked about and analyzed over the last few months as an example of a team being patient for a top player to become available. 

Rodgers’ experience both on and off the field is extremely important for the Jets. The expectations that come from a Hall-of-Fame quarterback like him means getting the team on the right mindset is solely done by the veteran players and coaches around him. 

And that means focusing on the here and now of OTAs.

“You have long-term goals. I think he’s the type that has the discipline to bring it back to the moment,” Saleh stated. “What are you doing today to move towards your long-term goals? He’s one of those guys that has that discipline, he understands that ‘Yes, this is what I want, but this is what I need to do today.’ If you have that and you can keep that in perspective, I think you’re fine being able to drift off every once in a while.” 

A rise in expectations and chatter for the Jets isn’t always considered a bad thing either. To some on the roster, it’s just a reaffirmation of why they wanted to be members of the team in the first place. 

“That’s why we’re here,” said CJ Mosley. “We’re here to win and win championships. Nothing is going to be given to us, but the small window we have with a generational quarterback that we have right now, the things we’re doing, little things like that every day are going to make us better.”

The Jets haven’t won anything yet. Coaches and the rest of the team understand that. Rodgers’ arrival certainly brings an increased level of expectations, but the team is well aware that they have a long way to go before any talk of being a Super Bowl contender can begin. 

Even if that means pumping the brakes on expectations for a little bit as the team prepares for the end of their off-season workouts. 

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