For what seemed like forever this offseason, the Jets were waiting on Aaron Rodgers. The two-time MVP expressed his desire to play for the Jets on an episode of the “Pat McAfee Show,” but a trade was not immediately agreed upon afterward. The Jets and Packers had to bridge a considerable gap in the compensation to bring the superstar quarterback to New York.
Days became weeks, and it seemed like the trade discussions could drag out throughout the summer at one point. Yet, deadlines make deals, and the Jets and Packers eventually reached an agreement that sent Rodgers to his new team.
Throughout this process, many people speculated about what Aaron Rodgers would bring to the Jets regarding leadership and how he would impact the team’s culture. Some cited his previous absences from the Packers’ OTAs and training camp practices over the past few seasons as a reason to doubt Rodgers’ leadership ability. Others used previous off-the-field comments and actions as a reason to doubt his ability not to create distractions in the locker room.
While these aspects are not to be overlooked, they do not seem to paint the current picture. From the onset of his arrival, Rodgers has positively impacted the Jets as a whole.
Unlike the last two seasons in Green Bay, Rodgers has been present throughout the team’s offseason activities. The star quarterback detailed back in May the importance of why he has made a consistent effort to be around his new team as much as possible.
“With a new offense being my first year here, I really wanted to be around for at least some of the beginning things to just let them know how I like to do things, like I said, some of the code words, little adjustments, some of the ways I see the game, sparking that conversation. The worst thing you can see in a meeting is a coach up there talking the entire time with no interaction. That might be the standard at some places, but I just never felt that’s been the right way to do things. It needs to be a free-flowing conversation between the coaches and the players; there needs to be feedback, needs to call on guys, so I’m allowed to do some of that stuff. I think it’s important, so guys are paying attention. They can know at any point that they can get called on to answer a question about something, so just being here with Hackett to help him put the offense in, and it’s the same system that we kind of tweaked between 2019-20 and ran in 2020-21 when we had a lot of success, so it’s been fun.”
In addition, Rodgers spoke about how he is setting the tone for the team.
“I’m not a big rah-rah type of guy, but I think there are times you need to speak up and reframe situations. The thing I did stress with those guys and did yesterday was that we need to be intentional. You can’t just come out here in anything you do, whether it’s a meeting, workout, or a practice, especially you can’t come out there and go through the motions and check a box and be so worried about doing something the right way that you turn your brain off and become a robot out there. Everything we do needs to have a purpose and an intention.”
This effort to set the tone and standard for the Jets has seemingly paid off so far. Outside of a few holdouts, most of the roster has been present for the team’s offseason workouts, showing immediate buy-in from the players. The Jets’ energy has also been evident, and the team’s confidence seems to have been taken up to another level.
Cornerback D.J Reed spoke to this point, saying there is a “great energy” around the Jets’ building.
“When I came the first day, it wasn’t just the players I felt the energy from. I felt it from all the staff; everybody was just happy, had a smile on their face. It was just a lot of energy in the building, for sure.
On the offensive side of the ball, tight end C.J. Uzomah spoke about how Rodgers has already impacted him as a player, referencing how he has already learned “a lot” this offseason.
“He’s opening up the playbook. It’s not just necessarily you’re running here, you’re running to a spot, and things of that nature. It’s hey, if I have this drop, you can do this, I’ll find you in this window. You don’t have to do X, Y, Z, whatever.”
Uzomah also referenced Rodgers’s activity in meetings, saying how the team “feels his presence the most” during them. The tight end said that Rodgers is not just talking to the other offensive players but is ensuring that “everyone is on the same page” regarding what the Jets want to do.
Running back Breece Hall also spoke about Rodgers’s presence in the meeting room, stating how “it’s been really cool” so far.
“He really knows the offense like the back of his hand. We’ll be in the meeting, Hack will be talking, and then Aaron will just butt in real quick. He’ll be like ‘Breece,’ or he’ll be like ‘Bam or MC, what do you got on this? If I flip this play, what are you doing on this?’ He asks these questions to the O-line, the tight ends, the receivers, and the running backs. You feel that sense of calm, but also, you know you gotta be on your stuff because he expects you to be in that spot and because you know he is going to get you the ball if you’re in the right place. “
In a relatively short period, it seems that Rodgers has already begun to change the dynamics surrounding the Jets’ organization. Excitement surrounds every aspect of the team, while a sense of accountability and open communication looks to have permeated the structure in place.
The true impact of Rodgers on the field will not be felt until the Jets begin their regular season against the Bills in Week 1. Yet, a foundation for success seems like it is being built, and if Rodgers and the Jets can continue to improve on this throughout the off-season, a very positive season for the organization could be in store.