The Jets’ full-court press on Aaron Rodgers brings back memories of 15 years ago, when the Jets went after (and landed) another legendary Packers quarterback.
Long before Rodgers, the Jets chased Brett Favre in the summer of 2008. The Jets had to woo Favre in a similar fashion to what they are now doing with Rodgers.
It is a case of déjà vu for Jets fans who lived through the excitement of the Favre trade.
The Favre experiment lasted only a year and ended in disappointment after he suffered a biceps injury and the team collapsed down the stretch.
What is sometimes forgotten is the fact the Jets were 8-3 before the injury, with dramatic victories over the Patriots on a Thursday night in Foxborough and over a 10-0 Titans team in Tennessee.
If not for the injury, who knows how far that 2008 team would have gone?
But the team ended up 9-7. Eric Mangini was fired as coach. Rex Ryan was hired. Favre retired. And Mark Sanchez was drafted.
The Jets then proceeded to reach the AFC Championship Game the next two years, so while the Favre season wasn’t a success in and of itself, it hardly hamstrung the franchise.
With that in mind, let’s consider a few lessons these Jets decision-makers can take from the Favre experiment when it comes to Rodgers:
1. The Jets need to make sure that Rodgers is all-in.
Jets owner Woody Johnson fell in love with the idea of Favre, and there was no reasoning with him. You wonder if that has happened again with Rodgers.
Mangini was against the Favre trade because he felt it would ruin team chemistry. This is a different situation.
That team had Chad Pennington. This team needs a quarterback.
The Favre trade went down during training camp. The Jets in 2023 are a month away from starting the offseason program.
With all that being said, the Jets need to make sure Rodgers really wants to be a Jet and he’s not just settling for the best option available.
With Favre, it never felt as if he was truly invested here. He had his eyes on the Vikings but could not get there from Green Bay, so he took a detour to the Jets.
Can the Jets convince Rodgers to promise them two seasons?
Can the Jets make sure Rodgers will take part in at least a portion of the offseason program so he can gain some chemistry with his young teammates?
The Jets need to make sure Rodgers has not checked out and is only interested in a paycheck at 39 years old.
2. Once the Jets bring Rodgers in, they have to make the offense entirely about Rodgers.
There is no fitting Rodgers into the Jets’ system; the Jets’ system needs to fit Rodgers.
This should not be an issue because the Jets are installing a new offense anyway, and new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was with Rodgers in Green Bay.
In 2008, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer had to redesign his offense for Favre, and it led to some big games.
The Jets can’t let pride get in the way of catering to what Rodgers wants.
If he is coming to the Jets, you are handing him the keys to the operation. Tailor the offense to what he wants.
But this is also a reason it would help to have him around in the spring.
3. While the Jets should look to fulfill Rodgers’ schematic desires, they should not completely destroy the culture they have built in the last two years for one person.
That was a mistake the Jets made in 2008.
Mangini stressed team, and then Favre became an individual bigger than the team. He even had a private office off of the locker room where he spent most of his time.
The topic of players having an office recently came up with Russell Wilson and the Broncos. Hackett knows how that went in Denver.
While everyone will recognize Rodgers is a superstar and future Hall of Famer, the Jets should try to have him fit into what they have built the best they can.
Favre always felt much bigger than the rest of the organization, and always seemed to be separate from the group.
The Jets need to do better at integrating a superstar this time.
Who’s staying, who’s going in free agency?
With free agency beginning Monday when the negotiating window opens, here is a quick look at some of the Jets’ key free agents and some thoughts:
LB Quincy Williams
The Jets really have developed Williams, who was cut by the Jaguars in 2021, over the past two seasons. Now a crucial piece of the defense, the Jets should do all they can to keep him unless his market gets out of control. He should have suitors, but he must be a priority.
DT Sheldon Rankins
Rankins was an essential part of the defensive line last year and a leader in the locker room. I think he’ll be back.
K Greg Zuerlein
The Jets may have finally found a kicker. They should hold onto him.
S Lamarcus Joyner
I think the Jets will explore other options at safety, but may circle back to Joyner.
Others to watch: LB Kwon Alexander, G Nate Herbig, DT Solomon Thomas
Those I think are gone: C Connor McGovern, OT George Fant, QB Joe Flacco, QB Mike White
Aaron Rodgers has put up some incredible statistics in his career. Here is how his career averages and career highs from his 15 years as a starting quarterback (starting in 2008) compare with Jets single-season records.
1. Joe Namath, 1967: 4,007 yards
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2015: 3,905 yards
3. Ken O’Brien, 1985: 3,888 yards
Rodgers average: 3.915 yards per season
Rodgers high: 4,643 yards (2011)
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2015: 31
2. Vinny Testaverde, 1998: 29
T-3. Joe Namath, 1967: 26
T-3. Mark Sanchez, 2011: 26
T-3. Al Dorow, 1960: 26
Rodgers average: 32 TD passes per season
Rodgers high: 48 TD passes (2020)
T-1. Al Dorow, 1961: 30
T-1. Richard Todd, 1980: 30
T-3. Joe Namath, 1967: 28
T-3. Joe Namath, 1975: 28
Rodgers average: 7 INTs per season
Rodgers high: 13 INTs (2008)
Rodgers low: 2 INTs (2018)