If it wasn't apparent during the Jets' 34-13 loss to the Dolphins on Black Friday, New York's season is completely over. Aaron Rodgers' injury at the start of the season immediately ended their Super Bowl hopes, but they did learn something valuable along the way: This team likely wouldn't have been Super Bowl contenders even if Rodgers was able to stay healthy for the whole season.
They just aren’t that good of an offense — and the moves that they made to accommodate Rodgers are a real reason as to why this offense is completely unwatchable right now. Maybe general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh will be able to survive this season based off of the idea that they didn’t get to see what this team would look like with Rodgers in it, but the supporting cast has completely fallen apart.
Wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, running back Dalvin Cook, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett and offensive lineman Billy Turner were all entities that had ties to Rodgers or were recruited by Rodgers to join the team. Lazard and Cobb were healthy inactives for their Black Friday game after struggling to contribute anything.
"I'll speak for him," Saleh said, speaking specifically to Lazard's absence, "I don't think he's played up to his standard, and I think everyone's kind of pressing on that side of the ball to try to make something happen, and there's parts of his game that need to get better."
Cook has been a shell of himself, averaging a little more than three yards on the season. Hackett hasn’t been able to give the Jets any bit of an edge in Rodgers’ absence, and Turner was giving up pressures left and right while he was in the lineup.
The Jets are firmly 0 for 5 on those moves, to the point where it's questionable if any one of them should be a part of what the team is building for in 2024. Rodgers also spent three seasons in Green Bay with Tim Boyle, who replaced Zach Wilson as the starting quarterback Friday and somehow threw a pick 6 on a Hail Mary attempt.
Even outside of those Rodgers-influenced moves, the Jets still have a whole lot of work to do in order to make something of next season. The offensive line showed this year through injuries that they don’t have the depth needed to protect any quarterback, and running the ball has been a struggle as well, even with a running back like Breece Hall who is verifiably good.
It's a shame that the offense has reached this level of ineptitude because the Jets defense is still one of the elite units in the league. According to RBSDM.com, the Jets rank seventh in expected points allowed per play (-0.073) and second in success rate (34.5%). Even with some poor moments that they had against the Dolphins, this is still a defense that's capable of supporting a Super Bowl run if they just had any help from the offense. The Jets have spent money and draft picks on this offense that has no hope to do anything each week.
Of course, things should improve if Rodgers is able to make a full recovery from his torn Achilles next season, but nothing is a guarantee at this point in his career and at his age (he turns 40 in early December). At the very least, the Jets need to consider how much influence Rodgers has over their moves next season because so many of them actively hurt the team without him on the field. If the Jets are actually going to live their dream of a playoff run in 2024, they need to think a little bit harder about the pieces they add and subtract from their roster. If Rodgers is unhappy with some of the moves they make, that’s just a risk they have to take. The Jets have more going on than just what Rodgers wants and what he thinks he needs for a successful run.
Something has to change if the Jets are going to turn this thing around, and it’s likely going to involve pulling some of the powers from Rodgers. They just can’t leave themselves in this state again caving to things that he wants, because he just might not have a great grasp on what it takes to build a great NFL team. At least they aren’t totally starting from scratch next season, but that’s all the Jets have left to bank on at this point.