The Aaron Rodgers injury has threatened to derail what appeared to be a promising season for the Jets. While a poor finish would have consequences on the field, the same would likely be the case on the sidelines and in the front office.
Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports that owner Woody Johnson “made no guarantees” regarding the futures of head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas before or after the Rodgers injury (subscription required). The latter’s Achilles tear left New York without the accomplished veteran passer the team committed to adding this offseason, something particularly crippling considering the efforts made elsewhere on the coaching staff (with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett) and elsewhere on the roster to cater to the four-time MVP.
In Rodgers’ absence, Zach Wilson has been in place as the starter under center, and his struggles from last year have carried over into 2023. In spite of that, Saleh has remained committed to the former No. 2 pick, something which has not sat well in the Jets’ locker room. The return of Rodgers in time for the team’s primetime Week 4 contest could help in the latter regard, but the big-picture implications of a disappointing season could be notable.
Douglas took over in 2019, and his tenure has seen a multi-year rebuild undertaken after a 7-9 season in his first campaign at the helm. Another seven-win campaign in 2022 showcased the talent outside the QB spot in place for the foreseeable future at a number of positions, making this year’s win-now approach a logical one with Rodgers becoming available. Failing to find a long-term successor to the latter (as appears to currently be the case with Wilson’s shortcomings) could put Douglas on thin ice, though.
Saleh, meanwhile, is in his third season in the Big Apple. Carrying signficant pedigree after his time as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, the 44-year-old faced major expectations on that side of the ball. The Jets improved from last in total and scoring defense to fourth from 2021 to ’22, and a number of young pillars of the unit (including the recently-extended Quinnen Williams and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner) are in place for years to come. Another year of poor play under center – and a resultant underwhelming output from the offense as a whole – though, would lead to sustained criticism of the Hackett hire and the continued backing of Wilson on Saleh’s part.
Plenty can change over the course of the rest of the season, one in which Russini notes the Jets will be forced to adapt a week-by-week gameplan for Wilson rather than relying on the scheme installed this offseason for Rodgers. If things don’t go according to plan in the coming weeks and months, it will be interesting to see how ownership responds with the organization’s top decision-makers.