The laughingstock of the AFC East for most of the last seven years, the New York Jets have, in very short order, transformed their team into possible Super Bowl contenders.
While head coach Robert Saleh has yet to record a winning season with the Jets, he enters his third year with high expectations. Teamed with a new offensive coordinator, a cherished veteran quarterback and some new impactful wide receivers, Saleh is poised for success.
The Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator in January. Last year, as head coach of the Denver Broncos, Hackett led the team to a struggling 4-11 record, culminating in his firing before the season’s end. Before his short time in Denver, however, he was offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers from 2019 through 2021. During that time, he developed a strong relationship with Aaron Rodgers, a Cal alumnus, making the playoffs together each year and finishing every regular season with at least 13 wins.
In his introductory Jets press conference April 26, Rodgers said that Hackett was a “big reason” he wanted to start fresh in New York. In later media availability, Rogers added that Hackett has “a great way of teaching,” emphasizing his long-standing relationship with the new OC.
Hackett won’t be the only familiar face for Rogers in New York. Soon after the Jets traded for Rodgers in March, they signed former Packers wide receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard. In so doing, the organization added veteran players to its existing group of prime rookie talent, including 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson.
“I love Garrett (Wilson). I mean awesome, awesome young kid,” Rogers said in a press conference in early June. “The whole world (is) in front of him. He’s got all the talent and ability.”
Fully equipped with a balanced offense, Rodgers is looking to win a Super Bowl in a place that hasn’t seen such success since 1969. He must set the standard for the team, which starts with speaking up in meetings, as he has previously noted that communication will be key for the Jets to take the next step.
The Jets seem to be on track to make a large improvement from ranking 29th in scoring last season. With great talent in place, perhaps the only question is how quickly Rodgers and his teammates can turn the franchise into a powerhouse.
Of all their complications last season, the Jets’ biggest was with the quarterback position. Now that a quarterback of hall-of-fame caliber has landed in New York, the rest of the Jets’ pieces may finally be ready to take flight.