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If You Approved Of Rodgers Trade, You Can’t Blame Jets For QB Mess
In the end, the Jets got it right.
I know that those of you who follow this forum will be shocked to read that from me, and no, the signing of veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian to the practice squad won’t change the club’s downward trajectory by much, if it all. But if you take a step back, you can’t fault the organization for this mess.
Well, not unless you were against the offseason trade for Aaron Rodgers in the first place. Don’t lie—95% of you bought into the “Hard Knocks” hype hook, line, and sinker.
Rodgers, who ruptured his Achilles on the fourth snap of the season, was supposed to make Zach Wilson a mere observer this season. There was always going to be a more advanced risk that Rodgers, at 39, would break down somewhere, but few teams that boast a starter at his level invest heavily in a backup. Quick: Who is the Rams QB2? (Answer: Even after Matthew Stafford, 35, suffered through an injury-shortened 2022 campaign, all L.A. could muster for this season is Brett Rypien.)
Wilson, for all his warts, was the Jets’ designated next man up in an emergency. It was the 2021 No. 2 overall pick’s third pro season and he was learning how to play the position correctly from a master. Relative to the rest of the league, it wasn’t an awful plan. Who knew it would need to be advanced into action in Week 1?
And remember, though Wilson didn’t light up the New Jersey sky with artful passes that night, the Jets did go on to beat the favored Bills in the opener. That result alone guaranteed him the next start.
Of course, it’s been all downhill from there. However, would the outcome in Dallas have been any different with Siemian calling signals? Highly doubtful, though with the way the Cowboys shredded the Jets offensive line, Siemian might have ended the day in the hospital like he did during that Monday Night debacle against Cleveland in his first go-round with Gang Green back in 2019.
OK, maybe Wilson’s Week 2 performance should have spurred Jets General Manager Joe Douglas to at least bring in some reinforcements for tryouts. At that stage, though, the organization still had plausible belief that the team’s offense could function, albeit in an archaic manner, with Wilson at the helm, so long as he wasn’t going to have to spend all game running for his life. Bringing in an outsider would have only created another distraction for Wilson.
Unfortunately, when Wilson’s game went to poo against the Bill Belichick defense that had always seemed to confuse him, everyone had to know it was over for him.
Only the Jets couldn’t say it right after the game. Instead, Head Coach Robert Saleh was forced into issuing the standard coach-speak of “giving us the best chance to win the game” nonsense. That infuriated the fan base, including Jets icon Joe Namath.
But maybe Saleh was right—for that particular game. We don’t know much about backup QB Tim Boyle other than from the tape of those few shoddy outings he had in Detroit two years ago and that he’s Rodgers’ friend. I’m sure Saleh knows more just from watching him at practices. If Boyle was any good, he would have been in there with the Jets down by two scores in the fourth quarter. I doubt Saleh would throw a Patriots game just to comfort a player he had to know was on thin ice.
The cliche goes that everyone loves the backup QB--until he has to play. It was only a year ago when many folks thought Chris Streveler would spark the offensively comatose Jets based on his preseason miracles. Saleh inserted him during the second half against Jacksonville and it looked like he was throwing a shot put.
Going back a little further, I remember arguing with a friend about how I was sick of seeing Ryan Fitzpatrick throw picks and advocated for Bryce Petty, “Give him a chance,” I said. “He couldn’t be any worse.”
Since he was out of football two years later, he probably was, and the coaches knew it all along.
By virtue of him not playing a down this season, Siemian will automatically be the new fan favorite for Sunday night’s national TV game against Kansas City. I’m not sure throwing him into the shark-infested waters that is the defending Super Bowl champions with only a few days of practice is the wisest thing. I had previously anticipated that the new QB would start the following week at Denver, which happens to be Siemian’s old stomping grounds. Given Sunday’s outrage, however, I could also see Saleh holding Wilson back from an incensed MetLife Stadium crowd.
As for what Siemian will bring, I don’t expect much. My initial reaction to the news was: “Wait, did Joe Flacco want no part of this?” I mean, why sign another immobile quarterback when you’re having pass protection issues?
Everyone knew the pickings would be slim. There hasn’t been any confirmed reporting to date of what Douglas’ other options were. The Jay Glazer report on FOX that Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz were each interested was flat-out denied by Ryan. Colt McCoy would have also been acceptable, but he is supposedly weighing other offers. Only Colin Kaepernick has publicly offered his services, and there was about as much chance that Donald Trump supporting Jets owner Woody Johnson would end his NFL blackball as there was of him calling on me to suit up.
So, as awful as it sounds, settling on Siemian will have to do. And, for a change, you can’t blame the Jets for these depressing circumstances.
Photo by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images