15 July 2023 | 18:07
The Jets’ 2023 season comes down to one simple question: Is “8” enough?
The organization went all out this offseason when they traded for legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who will wear No. 8 for the Jets, hoping he will be the missing piece in their Super Bowl puzzle.
That journey to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas begins in earnest Thursday when the Jets open training camp in Florham Park, N.J., with Rodgers as the headliner.
All eyes will be on the former Packers star when the Jets take the field, and those eyes likely won’t drift away from him until the season is over.
Rodgers has not shied away from expectations.
If anything, he has fueled them.
“I grew up watching old VHS tapes of Super Bowls, so of course I know about the ‘guarantee’ and Broadway Joe,” Rodgers said at his introductory press conference with franchise icon and Super Bowl III MVP Joe Namath. “It’s been a while. I noticed walking in this morning that the Super Bowl III trophy is looking a little lonely.”
Rodgers was a big presence during the spring program.
He missed a few practices with a minor calf injury, but he stayed in New Jersey and players raved about how engaged he was in the meeting rooms and on the field.
You’d have to go back to Brett Favre’s arrival in August 2008 to find a new arrival who has energized the team and its fans the way Rodgers has.
His new teammates swarmed the quarterback.
“He does it differently,” guard Laken Tomlinson said. “He does it differently with his confidence. He does it differently with his communication.
“He does it differently with his high level of play. To have all that mesh in that position, it’s really special to work with one of that caliber. He gets everyone on their A-game every day.”
The Jets will enter camp with the presence of “Hard Knocks” cameras as a looming distraction, but they avoided another potential distraction when they took care of a big piece of business last week by signing star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to a four-year, $96 million deal.
The Jets hope Rodgers can lift a team that lost its last six games and finished 7-10 last season to an AFC East contender and to the Lombardi Trophy.
The Jets will enter the 2023 season on a 12-year playoff drought, the longest in North American sports.
They haven’t had a winning season since 2015.
The organization and fan base are hungry for success.
The 2022 team had one of the best defenses in the NFL and finished No. 4 overall.
Rookies Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall gave the team reason to believe the future looked bright.
General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh didn’t hesitate to make the move for Rodgers after dismal quarterback play from Zach Wilson held the Jets back last season.
Saleh isn’t one to make Super Bowl predictions, but he’s embraced Rodgers so everyone in the organization is dreaming big.
“The reality is, yes, we all want to win a World Cup,” Saleh said. “We have long-term goals, but what are you doing in the meantime? What are you doing today to prepare or move you toward your long-term goals? [Rodgers is] one of those guys who has the discipline, he understands, “Yeah, that’s what I want, but that’s what I have to do today.” If you have that and you can keep it in perspective, I think you’re fine with being able to slip away once in a while.”
The Jets will be the first team to open training camp in the NFL this season as they play in the Hall of Fame game against the Browns on Aug. 3.
Their training camp will also feature joint practices with the Panthers in South Carolina and the Buccaneers in New Jersey.
Don’t expect Rodgers to play in any preseason games, but he will get plenty of work in practice and his mission is clear.
“There’s something special about playing in the city, for a team like this with a big franchise,” Rodgers said. “Going all the way back to Super Bowl III to be a part of something special would definitely help you go down in the history of our organization. Already have 18 years in an incredibly iconic organization and it would also be fun to be a part of the story of this one.”
Jets depth chart
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Zach Wilson
RB: Breece Hall, Michael Carter
WR: Garrett Wilson, Denzel Mims
WR: Allen Lazard, Corey Davis
WR: Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb
THAT: Tyler Conklin, CJ Uzomah
LT: Duane Brown, Max Mitchell
LG: Laken Tomlinson, Wes Schweitzer
C: Connor McGovern, Joe Tippmann
RG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Trystan Colon
RT: Mekhi Becton, Billy Turner
OF: Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson
DT: Quinnen Williams, Quinton Jefferson
DT: Al Woods, Solomon Thomas
OF: John Franklin-Myers, Will McDonald
LB: CJ Mosley, Jamien Sherwood
LB: Quincy Williams, Zaire Barnes
CB: Sauce Gardner, Bryce Hall
CB: DJ Reed, Brandin Echols
Nickel: Michael Carter II, Javelin Guidry
S: Jordan Whitehead, Ashtyn Davis
S: Adrian Amos, Tony Adams
K: Greg Zuerlein
P: Thomas Morstead
HR: Mecole Hardman
PR: Mecole Hardman
LS: Thomas Hennessy