Aaron Rodgers' highly anticipated New York Jets debut came to a screeching halt after just four snaps. The 39-year-old QB found himself under pressure from Buffalo Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd. He tried to spin out of the tackle, but Floyd corralled Rodgers to the ground and the QB's calf gave an unfortunate shudder.
Now, Rodgers faces a long road to recovery. He has been placed on IR and is expected to miss at least the remainder of the 2023 season. The Jets will turn to former No. 2 pick Zach Wilson in the meantime, much to the chagrin of the NFL's most tortured fanbase.
As the wave of blame for Rodgers' injury crests — his old age, the crappy offensive line, the bothersome turf at MetLife Stadium — a new theory has taken the internet by storm.
According to Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, Rodgers had previously complained to Jets coaches about play calls involving cut-blocks due to the lack of time afforded to him in the pocket. If any QB has to right to challenge a coach's thinking, it's Rodgers.
Maybe the Jets should have listened.
Aaron Rodgers complained about New York Jets' playcalling before Achilles injury
As Rosenblatt points out, the Jets' cut blocks failed twice — the second time ending in Rodgers' career-changing injury. New York's poor offensive line has been a topic of conversation ever since Robert Saleh laid into them on Hard Knocks, but perhaps the coaches deserve part of the blame too.
In the end, it's probably asinine to attempt to pin down exactly who deserves what blame here. Injuries often involve a combination of circumstances and a heavy dose of rotten luck. Players get hurt on completely normal tackles all the time. Football is a physical sport that involves top-shelf athletes ramming into each other at full force. It's impossible to prevent injury under even the most protective of playbooks.
On top of playcalling, Rodgers' age, prior calf injury, and the stickiness of the turf all could have played a role here. The offensive playbook changed for Zach Wilson, but the Jets' third-year signal caller was still subject to a bad offensive line and a steady stream of pressure from the Bills' imposing front line. He didn't get hurt because that's just how life works. Sometimes you get hurt, sometimes not.
The Jets' fanbase will continue to overanalyze and despair over Rodgers' injury, but it won't change the severity of the fallout. New York is no longer a contender and Rodgers' future is murkier than ever. Not many quarterbacks play into their 40s, especially not directly after a severe lower leg injury. Rodgers is a football genius more committed to the game than most, but even he is subject to the tribulations of aging.
Here's to hoping he's back on a football field in 2024.