Unfortunately, the New York Jets quarterback situation after Aaron Rodgers is a page right out of the book of legendary offensive coordinator Tom Moore. Jon Gruden once asked Moore why Peyton Manning’s backups didn’t get more reps in practice, and Moore answered “Fellas, if 18 goes down we’re [screwed], and we don’t practice [screwed].”
So once No. 8 (Rodgers) went down, the Jets season was already in trouble. But it didn’t have to be that way. That’s at least according to former Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, who now serves as an Amazon Prime Video NFL analyst
Whitworth took the Jets to task for not having a better answer behind Rodgers than Zach Wilson, who was effectively benched and demoted to the third-string quarterback on Monday. The Jets elected to bring back the former No. 2 overall pick as their No. 2 QB, despite allocating a multitude of assets and resources to acquire his replacement, and the fact that he was benched on multiple occasions the season prior.
“You were so steadfast in protecting Zach and saying, ‘Nobody else will be this quarterback other than him and Aaron Rodgers,’” he said, via Fox News Digital. “You look at what Cleveland’s done. You look at the Rams. [Matthew] Stafford gets banged up a little bit, they don’t even lose the starter, but they don’t like their backup situation and bring in Carson Wentz. Where are you at on that? Where are you at on Joe Flacco? Where are you at on these quarterbacks?”
He added, “If anybody should’ve been adding them first, it should’ve been you because you actually have the team to where you think, ‘Man, defensively, we keep being ourselves. And offensively, if we just don’t mess it up and we’re just efficient, we’re going to win a ton of games.’”
Under the guidance of head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, New York’s defense has transformed into one of the most formidable units in the league. With that, Whitworth commended Saleh for his leadership and strategic prowess in shaping this formidable defensive force.
General manager Joe Douglas has made a series of astute moves to bolster the Jets’ roster, including drafting Offensive Rookie of the Year wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall, but beyond that, he left his team largely naked in the event that Rodgers went down with an injury.
“I think it’s that thing that you’ve now let this grow not just amongst us that’s watching them play but in that locker room, it’s starting to fester. Like, ‘Why don’t we have another answer? Why didn’t we make a move?’”
“I know, myself, much less being a leader, in Cincinnati, going to the playoffs five years in a row and never getting over that hump, the frustration that was built like, ‘Hey, how come ownership’s not making one trade to just take us over the hump? Or maybe some big free agency move that takes us over the hump.'”
“That grows this frustration like, ‘Alright, we’re giving everything we’ve got. Why is everyone not doing something risky to get us over that point?’ I think that’s what really starts to happen. The belief is lost, and you’re also sitting around like, ‘Why have we not been making moves or things to help this move along to where we’re in a better position now than the unfortunate situation we’re in?'”
So, Whitworth firmly believes that the Jets should have made a move, whether it was in the offseason or after Rodgers went down, to acquire another quarterback. There isn’t that same belief in Wilson, which is why this has culminated in Tim Boyle being named the starter for Friday’s game.
But as Whitworth pointed out, it didn’t need to be Wilson or Boyle. The Jets had their chance to add a viable veteran option at the backup quarterback position and opted not to. It’s why they’re 4-6 and the locker room is on the verge of fracturing at the seams.