The New York Jets came into the 2023 NFL season with sky-high expectations, but those expectations were dashed nearly immediately, as Aaron Rodgers suffered a seemingly serious injury just four plays into Monday’s season opener against the Bills. While we don’t have the details on the injury, Rodgers went down immediately and stayed down, as he needed to be helped to the sideline and, eventually, the locker room. We’ll learn more in the coming days about Rodgers’ injury, but Rodgers was seen in a walking boot and on the cart after returning from the X-ray room.
The X-rays were negative, but Jets head coach Robert Saleh confirmed after the game that the team fears he tore his Achilles. A torn Achilles injury would end Rodgers’ 2023 season. Rodgers will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to confirm. If Rodgers is out of the lineup for an extended period, it will mean Zach Wilson is back at quarterback for the Jets.
Look, we can talk all we want about how good Zach Wilson looked during Hard Knocks, or about how this is the most prepared he’s ever been for a season, or anything else the broadcasters had to say as he came into the game. And maybe all of that is true. But the Jets didn’t trade for Aaron Rodgers because they thought Wilson was a good training camp away from being the franchise QB. This is bad news for the entire Jets offense, but especially wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
Zach Wilson was the starting QB for the Jets for eight full games and half of another, and Garrett Wilson had just 430 yards in those 8.5 games. The biggest problem was, Zach Wilson just didn’t look Garrett Wilson’s way enough; he had just a 21% target share from the young QB. The Y/A with that combo was a decent 8.4, but they combined for no touchdowns in addition to that relatively low target share.
That doesn’t mean that combination will be as unproductive this time around, of course. Wilson was a rookie WR a year ago, and he was still getting acclimated to the NFL when playing with Zach Wilson – most of MIke White and Joe Flacco’s time at QB for the Jets came in the middle and end part of the season. It’s possible that the mediocre production there was more about Garrett Wilson not being quite up to speed.
But, it’s not unfair to say Zach Wilson deserves some of the blame. He’s had trouble staying healthy in the NFL, he’s had trouble with accuracy, and his decision making has been pretty consistently poor. He has the physical tools, especially a cannon arm, but Wilson has just struggled to operate within an NFL offense so far.
And, frankly, the offense around him has two legit playmakers and a whole bunch of guys Aaron Rodgers liked when he played in Green Bay. We’ve seen what this Jets offense looks like with Zach Wilson at QB and it was 29th in scoring a year ago. Wilson had the lowest on-target throw rate in the NFL at 67% last season, the second-biggest gap between his expected and his actual completion percentage.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Know What Your Friends Don’t
Get tips, advice and news to win your league – all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Garrett Wilson might still be able to be a must-start Fantasy WR, but if we had entered the season with Zach Wilson as the Jets starting QB, he wouldn’t have been a second-round pick, and he might not have been a third-rounder, either. I’ll probably rank Wilson as a WR2 moving forward, and I definitely don’t think anyone else in this passing game is likely to matter much, either.
As for the running game, they take a hit too with what should be a much worse offense overall. Breece Hall is a superstar once he gets up to speed relatively quickly, and he showed the ability to be a difference maker even at something less than 100% in the first half of Monday’s game. The Jets will likely lean heavily on Hall and Dalvin Cook, and when Hall is ready, he could still be an RB1 in this offense – he looked like one before his injury a year ago.
But it’s hard to put a silver lining on this cloud. It was fair to be skeptical of whether Rodgers could bounce back after his down 2022 season, but Zach Wilson would have to take several steps forward to be even as good as Rodgers was in a down year. This isn’t an offense with the kind of infrastructure around Wilson that we can expect to elevate him, and he hasn’t shown the ability to elevate an offense, either. It’s bad news all around, and any hopes we had for the Jets offense taking a step forward probably went down with Rodgers.
This content was originally published here.