The many years quest for a quarterback post-Joe Namath is infamous in New York Jets history. We know it well from Richard Todd, Ken O’Brien, Boomer Esiason, Vinny Testaverde, Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Sam Darnold, and Zach Wilson. To even former Green Bay Packers greats Brett Favre, and now Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers hasn’t even played a regular-season down yet for the Jets, but he’s made a mark in New York from attending Knicks and Rangers playoff games at Madison Square Garden to attending Taylor Swift concerts at MetLife Stadium.
Favre, the quarterback who Rodgers succeeded in Green Bay, got to New York via a trade in August of 2008 and never really acclimated himself to New York. Rodgers is already a beloved figure. The Jets have put all their eggs in the Aaron Rodgers basket, but the real leading force has to be the Jets fierce defense.
The Core of the Jets Defense
The Jets built the defense by drafting Quinnen Williams, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, and Jermaine Johnson. In addition, the team has signed C.J. Mosley, John Franklyn-Myers, D.J. Reed, and Carl Lawson. Each of these pieces has contributed to winning in what has otherwise been a tumultuous era of Jets football.
In 2020, the Jets first win of the season after an 0-13 start came at the hands of the defense defeating a then 9-4 Los Angeles Rams squad at SoFi Stadium. The defense stopped the Rams on a 4th-and-4 to preserve the win. In 2022, the Jets biggest game of the season came against the Buffalo Bills and saw the defense put the team on their back by picking off Bills quarterback Josh Allen twice in a 20-17 Jets win. The defense even dominated their new quarterback in a trip to Green Bay. Sacking Rodgers four times and New York shocked the Packers 27-10.
Last season, the man they call “Sauce” won defensive rookie of the year. He and Reed formed what might be the best cornerback duo in football, something the Jets haven’t had since the Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie duo. The 2023 draft selection of Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV adds to an already strong defensive line.
Picking up a Struggling Jets Offense
The Jets defense ranked fourth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed last year. They were a big reason for the Jets 7-4 start to the season, but the problems on offense would take over the story of the season. Especially Zach Wilson’s regression and Breece Hall’s season-ending injury. Their six-game losing streak to close the season saw the defense being asked to do a lot of heavy lifting and Wilson and Mike White’s struggles weren’t helping matters.
That’s why getting Rodgers is such a big move from this organization. However, the defense will be the anchors because they have to, and they have the talent to do it. Plus, Rodgers is going to be 40 years old, and Father Time is undefeated.
Defense Wins Championships
Even in a league that sees quarterbacks and the passing game as king, defense still wins championships. Williams is primed for another monster season as he looks for a new contract, Read and Gardner should continue to dominate, Mosley and Quincy Williams are solid pieces in the middle, as well as the rookie, McDonald.
2023 will see the most attention for the Jets since the Rex Ryan era. With all eyes surely on Aaron Rodgers. Everyone’s attention is going to have to be on the Jets defense. If Gang Green’s defense isn’t up to par, then the Jets hopes for a championship go down with it no matter how good Rodgers is.
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