Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

The New York Jets were a mess in 2023, or at least that’s how one of their coaches characterized their season.

In a report from The Athletic detailing the dysfunction, dozens of sources on or around the Jets painted a picture of how things went wrong in New York, with one anonymous coach saying a shakeup is needed. 

“It’s just such a f—ing mess,” the coach reportedly told The Athletic. “Something has to change.”

A lot of the dysfunction and frustration centers around Aaron Rodgers. New York landed the future Hall of Fame quarterback in a trade last offseason in hopes that he would elevate the team to Super Bowl contention. But those hopes were quickly dashed when Rodgers tore his Achilles on his fourth snap with the team, ending his season just as it began.

However, Rodgers almost immediately insisted he would return at some point during the 2023 season and seemed to have great influence over the organization’s decisions before and after his injury.

So much influence, in fact, that an AFC general manager reportedly told The Athletic: “Rodgers isn’t the assistant GM; [Jets general manager] Joe Douglas is the assistant GM.” 

Last offseason, the Jets acquired many players on Rodgers’ wishlist. They also hired Nathaniel Hackett, whom Rodgers worked with in Green Bay, to be their offensive coordinator despite his abject failure as Broncos head coach. As a result, the Jets offense was tailored around Rodgers. According to The Athletic, when other coaches asked about plays being run during training camp, Hackett would tell them, “That’s what Aaron wants.”

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Without Rodgers, the Jets offense was statistically worse in 2023 than it was in 2022, with fewer yards per game (268.6, 31st in NFL) and points per game (15.8, 29th).

Hackett “lacked attention to detail” following Rodgers’ injury, failing to meet with most of the offensive coaching staff until final preparations were being made for each week’s game, according to The Athletic.

Meanwhile, head coach Robert Saleh reportedly fawned over Rodgers throughout the season, which put off fill-in starting quarterback Zach Wilson and others on the team. According to The Athletic, Wilson’s relationship with Rodgers, whom Wilson once called his “big brother,” deteriorated to the point that Wilson didn’t want to start again after being benched despite Rodgers’ encouragement.

Wilson struggled for the majority of the 2023 season, failing to improve after his poor performances in his first two seasons in the league. He completed 60.1% of his passes for 2,271 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 77.2 passer rating in 12 games. As the Jets offense arguably got worse, Wilson was benched during their Week 11 loss to the Bills, leading many to believe the former No. 2 overall pick’s time in New York was over.

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Despite his reported reluctance, Wilson returned as the starting quarterback in Week 14 before a concussion in Week 15 ended his season. The Jets have reportedly told Wilson that they plan to trade him this offseason.

Meanwhile, Rodgers has stated his plans to return to the Jets in 2024, ending a streak of offseasons where he has contemplated retirement. Though Rodgers returned to practice late in the season, he ultimately didn’t play in a game again after his Achilles injury, pointing to the Jets’ record as a reason why it wouldn’t make sense.

The Jets finished the season 7-10. Despite all the dysfunction, Jets owner Woody Johnson has said that Saleh and Douglas will remain in New York. Hackett is also returning for the 2024 season. 

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