Aaron Rodgers facing ‘hot seat’ reality with Jets in desperation mode

Aaron Rodgers knows full well that the Jets’ universe revolves around him, and that is the way he likes it and wants it.

It is the way he is wired, the way every franchise quarterback should be wired. Your ball, your team, your game to win, your Super Bowl to chase, your legacy to build.

Or in his case, your New York legacy to create.

Rodgers liked to joke as a Packer that he owned the Bears because he always beat them, and now, he owns the Jets. He owns the Jets because he has been gifted a key to the kingdom so significant that when he tells the actual owners, Woody and Christopher Johnson, that Robert Saleh and Nathaniel Hackett and Joe Douglas should be judged only when he is playing quarterback, his wish is their command.

The Jets, because of their growing desperation through the years, have granted Rodgers, because he has a very particular set of skills, the same kind of entitlements that Tom Brady earned with the Bucs, that Peyton Manning earned with the Broncos. Perhaps even more.

Aaron Rodgers’ quest to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl ended after just four offensive snaps. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post
Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles against the Bills in the season opener. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

He answered Jets prayers when he decided that the grass would be greener for him on the New York stage, but there remains the biggest prayer for him to answer.

The Jets are entitled too … to a title.

That lonely Lombardi Trophy he noticed when he first arrived at the facility isn’t any less lonely today.

Deliver one to stand beside it.

“Obviously we’re all gonna be on the quote-unquote ‘hot seat’ next year,” Rodgers said on Monday.

He is correct when he tells us that the greatest competitors can motivate themselves, and he is as great of a competitor as there is. The ask doesn’t change for him in 2024 even though he will be a year older at 40 and coming back from a torn Achilles that cost him all but four plays of the ill-fated 2023 season.

“I’m gonna have to go out and prove I can still play at a high level,” Rodgers said.

Prove it. It’s your team. You wanted the regime back, it is back after 7-10 back-to-back. You wanted your former Packer teammates Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, you got them. You wanted Dalvin Cook, you got him. You love Hackett, he isn’t going anywhere even if touchdown-deprived Jets fans would hire the limo to drive him away.

“What happened this season can’t happen again. … It’s got to be better,” Garrett Wilson said. “We’ve got to make adjustments in the game.”

Aaron Rodgers talks with Joe Douglas, Woody Johnson and Robert Saleh during his introductory press conference with the Jets. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

You want to do your weekly Pat McAfee thing, you do it, even if you created an unwanted controversy last week in your feud with Jimmy Kimmel over the unveiling of the Jeffrey Epstein list.

“Flush the B.S.,” Rodgers said.

His coaches and teammates revere him and either don’t watch McAfee or don’t care, and apparently Rodgers has no concerns about the B.S. one day seeping into the building. No “Hard Knocks” hype this summer, much to the delight of Sauce Gardner, who thought it was a distraction to some.

“If you want to be a winning organization and put yourself in position to win championships and be competitive, everything that you do matters,” Rodgers said. “And the bulls–t that has nothing to do with winning needs to get out of the building.”

Rodgers wants to play two more with teammates as committed to excellence as he is, and has put his money, a restructured two-year $75 million deal with $35 million willingly surrendered, where his mouth is, but in a conference that features Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence in their primes, and C.J. Stroud as a rising star, his Super Bowl window and the Jets’ Super Bowl window can be shut without warning.

He acknowledges that we live in a what-have-you-done-lately world, and he was brought here for a second-round draft pick and a swap of first-rounders that cost LT Broderick Jones because the Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl in 55 years and own an embarrassing 13-year playoff drought.

Aaron Rodgers’ recovery from an Achilles injury included throwing on the field before a game against the Chargers. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

And Rodgers? He is now two years removed from his fourth MVP.

“It’s coming back strong from this injury,” he says, “it’s coming back at 40 in great shape, it’s coming back and proving I can still play, coming back and proving that this offense works and can work. We all find different ways to get ourselves in the right headspace.”

The offensive line has been a battered nightmare, and Rodgers would welcome high-character bodyguards who also happen to be characters. Of course he offered his recruiting services, and when he talks, people like Douglas listen.

“I think we need some pieces,” Rodgers said. “We had a lot of injuries upfront, so we gotta shore up the offensive line. That’s important. We need some more receiver help probably. But I like where we’re at from a schematic standpoint and what I know I can do with the offense.”

Aaron Rodgers eventually returned to practicing with the Jets near the end of their season. Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

The Jets can’t win without him. It’s on him to show the world that they can win, and win big, with him. Saleh is certain that Rodgers is on a mission. “The fire’s still really strong,” Rodgers said.

The fire will burn down the house if he doesn’t fly the 2024 Jets to Cloud 8.

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