The NFL is brutal and the New York Jets experienced it in the worst possible way in the first game of the season. Never has a team entered a season with so much hype and expectation only to be snatched away just seconds into the season. But that’s exactly what happened four plays into the game when quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down injured against the Buffalo Bills.
Unfortunately, Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon and his season ended, along with that, probably any real chance of the New York Jets making a serious run at a Super Bowl. In a sport where quarterback is the most crucial position, losing one of Rodgers’ caliber is nearly impossible to replace.
However, teams in the past have won the Super Bowl with backup quarterbacks depending on how well the rest of the team is built, and the New York Jets showed against the Bills that they are a very good team.
Last season, the Jets were among the top three defenses in the league and look even better. Elite players at every level and when a team is that good on that side of the ball, the offense just has to be adequate.
If the New York Jets decide that Zach Wilson is not the man to lead that offense, there are options in free agency and quarterbacks that could be available via trade. Here are four people who could step in to help steady the ship:
Jameis Winston is currently the backup quarterback for the New Orleans Saints to Derek Carr, who was signed from the Raiders last offseason. The Saints could be open to trading the veteran quarterback for a price.
With the plethora of weapons at their disposal, the New York Jets would be one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Winston previously led the league in touchdowns with 33, but also led the league in interceptions with 30.
That’s the biggest problem with Winston’s game, he just doesn’t seem to know how to take care of the ball. He has been with the Saints for the past three years, spending the first as a backup to Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
When Brees retired, Winston was given the starting job in New Orleans in 2021, and he started very well. He played seven games before getting injured. In those seven games, the Saints sat at a comfortable 5-2 passing for 1,170 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions, the lowest interception percentage of his career.
It seemed like he had turned a corner before his injury, but 2022 saw the same old Winston, careless with the ball. After only 3 games he was benched and Andy Dalton replaced him.
If the New York Jets are okay with turning the ball over on offense, then Winston makes a lot of sense, because there’s no doubt he’s a player who can get the ball to all those explosive weapons on the outside.
The least risky option for the New York Jets is veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. The former league MVP is currently in the announcer’s booth in a suit and tie, it remains to be seen whether or not he is willing to put on pads and get hit. Although he has made it clear that he is willing to return if the right opportunity presents itself.
But if the New York Jets plan to bring in a player, Ryan makes a lot of sense. A player who will take care of the ball, allow his defense and running game to take over and be able to make plays if necessary.
This Jets team is well built, they don’t need someone to come in and throw for 5,000 yards, they need a game manager and that’s what Matt Ryan excels at, especially at this stage of his career.
Ryan started 12 games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. But he claims that he is healthy and ready to play under the right circumstances, and this is about as correct as it gets.
The New York Jets have a Super Bowl caliber team, their defense is arguably the best in the league, and they have the best running back duo in the league with Breece Hall and four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook. The situation makes sense for both parties and very much represents a low-risk, high-reward option.
A player with this much talent should not be left without a team, Carson Wentz is, but he could be the savior of the New York Jets. Before tearing his ACL in his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, Wentz was the favorite to be crowned MVP that season.
The arm talent, his mobility that helps elude attackers, and his ability to put the ball in the tightest windows make Wentz a high-ceiling option for the New York Jets. But it’s his tendency to make horrible decisions at times that makes teams cautious about signing him.
However, in 2021, when he played for the Colts, he looked close to what he did in his first two seasons in Philadelphia. Although he was still susceptible to the occasional foolish play, overall, he took care of the ball for the most part and was effective. The Colts relied heavily on the run and let his defense get to work, a situation similar to what the New York Jets would ask him to do.
Wentz spent last season with the Washington Commanders and honestly, he didn’t do well at all, which is probably why he’s a free agent right now. But on his defense, the Commanders weren’t as good as the Jets are now and this would be a great opportunity for him to bounce back, behind a good offensive line and elite running backs.
It’s a risk? Yes. However, there is no denying that Carson Wentz is an extremely talented quarterback and, on his day, he can be a game-changer. If the New York Jets decided to do it with Wentz and he was able to eliminate some of the mistakes he has been prone to making, the Jets could be a real contender in the AFC.
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