The New York Jets have been the stars of the 2023 offseason thus far. After trading for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, expectations have changed for the organization. Will their aggressiveness pay off, or will they fall flat?
Let’s dive into the best and worst-case scenarios for the Jets’ 2023 season.
Predicting the Best-Case Scenario for the Jets’ 2023 NFL Season
The easy answer for the Jets’ best-case scenario is that they reach the promised land for the first time since their only Super Bowl victory in 1969. However, expectations aren’t necessarily that high despite this team having the upside. Even if the Jets don’t win the Lombardi Trophy, it can still be a successful season in 2023.
New York’s win total at DraftKings Sportsbook is 9.5, and they’re -150 favorites to make the playoffs. They’re sitting with the seventh-highest odds to win the Super Bowl at +1800.
However, this team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010. Few teams ever jump from a non-playoff team to the Super Bowl. The Cincinnati Bengals did it in 2021, and the Jets do have some similarities to that Bengals team.
Such a jump will take a repeat performance from the Jets’ young stars on both sides of the ball. 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson will need to click immediately with Rodgers. Either running back Breece Hall will need to show his former star form coming off his torn ACL, or 2023 fifth-round pick Israel Abanikanda needs to replicate the impressive efficiency that he produced at Pitt.
The offensive line will be a focal point as well since Rodgers has always benefitted from strong pass blocking throughout his career. Maligned left tackle Mekhi Becton is a wild card as he comes back from a season-ending knee injury. He said he’s lost “a lot of weight,” aiming to weigh 350 pounds after tipping the scales at 400 at one point.
If Becton is playing at his impressive peak and the rest of this young offensive line gels quickly, then Rodgers will have everything needed to produce an elite offense. Rodgers is, of course, the key to it all.
The Jets’ history of quarterback incompetence is staggering, so it’s no surprise they did everything they could to land the elder passer. Rodgers admitted that reuniting with his former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was “a big reason” he chose to join the Jets instead of staying with the Packers or retiring. Now, he needs to reward the franchise for bending over backward for him.
Rodgers doesn’t need to produce an MVP-level season in order for the team to reach its best-case scenario of winning the AFC East and playing in the Super Bowl. But he does need to be as efficient as he was before 2022 and be able to make clutch plays in the postseason. The biggest ding on Rodgers’ career is he tends to disappear in the playoffs when it matters the most.
The defense will need to replicate their elite season from 2022 in order to alleviate the pressure on Rodgers. Green Bay hadn’t given Rodgers the playmakers the Jets currently boast in about a decade. When they did, they had a mediocre or worse defense that failed to complement the offense.
The Jets theoretically have the most talent on both sides of the ball Rodgers has played with in many years. At least, that’s the best-case outlook.
Predicting the Worst-Case Scenario for the Jets’ 2023 NFL Season
Things can go downhill very quickly when a team is banking on a 39-year-old quarterback to be the leader of their playoff push. Rodgers is coming off arguably the worst season of his career, but it was mirrored by detachment as he was discontent with the roster. Understandably, Rodgers said he was much more “excited” about joining a team that’s been built to make him happy.
But if Rodgers simply doesn’t have the talent and sharp skill that he once had, or if the AFC’s competition has surpassed him to the point where he’s a mediocre passer, the Jets aren’t going to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Their ceiling will be making the playoffs.
However, the worst-case is far worse. The Jets could get through halfway through the season with Rodgers before a major injury or drop-off in play from the veteran, then be a bad team that isn’t quite bad enough to save their 2024 first-round pick due to the playing time details in the conditional pick they gave up. If Rodgers misses time and Zach Wilson has to play at all, we all suffer the team’s worst-case scenario.
The Jets are loaded on paper. Their receiving corps is solid, and the backfield is deep enough to withstand a slow return from Hall. However, if the line doesn’t gel, Becton doesn’t play or play well, and if Hall isn’t himself again, the offense will be vulnerable to bad outings.
The defense also has some work cut out for itself. As well as head coach Robert Saleh has helped mold the unit, they don’t have proven pass-rush depth, and the secondary could regress in a big way. There aren’t any concerning advanced metrics from Sauce Gardner’s 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year season or from D.J. Reed’s campaign, but coverage success is more volatile than predictable year to year.
It doesn’t seem likely, but there is a scenario where the 2023 Jets are about as good as the 2022 Jets despite adding Rodgers. The disaster scenario is the Jets miss the playoffs but Rodgers plays at least 65% of snaps, leading to a forfeit of their 2024 first-rounder.