The stars aligned for Jets general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh entering this season. They had a new star quarterback, an incredible defense, and a strong overall foundation with championship aspirations. After all, if the Jets miss the playoffs this year, either of these guys’ tenures could be on the rocks. So, with jobs potentially on the line, working within this situation seemed ideal.
But things are a lot different coming out of Week 1. Because that star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is now out for the year with an Achilles tear. And it’s unknown if he’ll stick around next season or retire (regardless of Saleh’s opinion).
Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh could thus be staring down a dark path with backup Zach Wilson. Their jobs are once again hinging on the success of the former first-rounder. And that’s not ideal.
Even with a great defense, which forced four turnovers from Bills quarterback Josh Allen on Monday, the Jets are in trouble due to their lack of talent at the game’s most important position. For now, it’s Wilson’s team. But after an offseason of second-team work, he’s about to get thrown into the fire. Wilson will be facing off against the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, and Deshaun Watson.
That’s pretty eye-opening, even after the impressive season-opening victory.
Given the circumstances, would owner Woody Johnson give Douglas and Saleh a mulligan if the Jets struggle with Wilson and miss the playoffs? That already happened last year when Wilson’s play highlighted (or lowlighted) a six-game skid that kept the Jets out of the playoffs.
Johnson already restored patience after that late-season plummet thanks to the possibility (and eventual reality) of acquiring Rodgers. He might not be patient again if the Jets can’t overcome this and miss the playoffs for a 13th straight year.
The talent is there on defense and in the backfield. Garrett Wilson is shaping up to be one of the best receivers in the entire league. Tyler Conklin is a talented receiving tight end.
However, this team’s ability to compete in the AFC will, in good part, hang on the quarterback. And how that quarterback performs could determine the future of this regime.