The New York Jets didn’t ask for Hard Knocks. They didn’t ask for the expectations many deem unrealistic. And they certainly didn’t ask to be this heavily scrutinized. All New York was seeking this offseason was above-average quarterback play to pair with an elite defense. In turn, they got Aaron Rodgers and have since embraced that “bad boy” persona that comes with being a villain.

After listening to Robert Saleh’s monologue on the season finale of Hard Knocks, the Jets want to embarrass teams any given Sunday and they want you to know about it. Tired of being the team that others saw on their schedule and immediately chalked up a “W,” the Jets went and did something about it. 

And now they want you to hear about it.

Here’s Saleh’s monologue (with a lot of f-bombs, which annoyed ESPN contributor Chris “Mad Dog” Russo), which was transcribed by SNY’s Connor Hughes on Twitter:

“This journey, this climb is about to get hard as ****. It is. That’s the reality of it. There’s going to be a ton of adversity along the way. And the crows, like we’ve talked about, they’re going to come pecking.

“They’re all talking about how we have to go through this team, this division, this conference, and that quarterback — well, ****, they have to deal with us too. All the way across the board: I’ll take everyone in this room over anybody in football.

“One of my biggest pet peeves I have as a coach is when you’re on a team that’s not doing very well and the opposing coach whose team is doing well walks up to you at the 50-yard-line and says ‘Man, you guys play hard.’ “**** you. I don’t want to ******* play hard. I want to **** you up. That’s the mindset.

“No one is talking about how we play hard anymore. They’re ******* hating. And that’s exactly what you ******* want.”

“They have to deal with us too.”

Yes, they do.

The Jets went out and acquired a future Hall of Fame quarterback. After winning back-to-back COVID MVPs, Rodgers had a down season with Green Bay, which many pointed as a sign of his decline. Rodgers wasn’t as engaged as he was in the previous years, failing to click with his younger wide receivers, while also nursing a broken thumb and a later rib injury.

As he walked off Lambeau Field in Week 18 following a win-or-go game matchup with the Detroit Lions, it looked as if we were watching the end of a storied NFL career. When the 39-year-old embarked on his darkness retreat, he went into the darkness about 90 percent sure that he was going to retire. But something changed. He emerged from the darkness and announced his intention was to play for the New York Jets.

Since joining the Jets, Rodgers has been fully rejuvenated and has refound that burning desire to win. He carries himself like he has something to prove, even though he could’ve retired following the 2022 season and been an automatic Hall of Famer. His experience with the Jets thus far has been nothing short of amazing, and this is why, even with Super Bowl aspirations on the line, this isn’t just a one-year commitment. His willingness to take a ginormous pay cut was only further proof of that. So was this quote below, in which he sat down with a group of reporters at the end of August and ended with a long-winded answer about his experience with the Jets this far, as transcribed by The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt.

“I told a friend this has felt like waking up inside of a dream, this whole experience. A beautiful dream. So many times you have a great dream and you wake up and you think: I just want to get back into that but I can’t quite get back into the dream. I’ve woken up inside of that dream and it’s been really, really special. There’s a lot of times — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — where I just look around and say: This is my life now. How cool is this?

“It happens in the locker room, it happens walking out and it’s the fresh air and the sun setting. It’s just (thinking) what an awesome day it was because of whatever it was, a conversation I had with Mekhi, getting to see Billy Turner and catch up with him, a play that happened that really was fun that we talked about and wanted to happen … or we’re driving to the city and you hit that spot before you go in the tunnel and you’re looking across to the city going: How cool is my life now? I just try to keep that perspective every day here and it’s been easy because one thing has happened almost every single day that just reminds me I’m in the right place, I’m where I’m supposed to be and I’m really just loving what this opportunity has given me … “

Everyday I’m thinking — and I won’t say it out loud — but I’ll sit back with the guys in the room, take a second sometimes and it’s: How cool is this?”

The Jets arguably had the worst quarterback situation in the sport, rotating between the likes of Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White, and even a cameo appearance from Chris Streveler. Whether you like the stat or not, not a single Jets QB was in the top 31 in QBR in 2022. Not a single Jets quarterback with over 15 passing attempts completed more than 58% of their passes last season. And we’re not supposed to think that Rodgers can top those numbers?

Heck, we all saw this team was a quarterback away last season. So, did Rodgers.

This is a team that went 7-4 behind some erratic quarterback play. Yes, the team did lose its final six games after the other shoe dropped, but they were in prime position to be a playoff team with the slightest ounce of competent quarterback play. Even White might have gotten Gang Green there if he hadn’t fractured several of his ribs.

And even with all that, they finished with a top 5 defense by DVOA. Their defense also managed to get better. In addition to extending Quinenn Williams, who has been unblockable during the course of the preseason, the Jets added the likes of Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, and Will McDonald IV. That’s not even mentioning the addition of a full season out of second-year defensive end Jermaine Johnson, who looks to be a different player entering his sophomore season in the league.

The Jets got better at safety. The word about Tony Adams, the best-kept secret in the NFL, is starting to get out. And oh, did we mention that they likely have the best cornerback duo in the league between Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed? Gardner looks to only be getting better after a season that saw him win the Defensive Rookie of the Year. He played like a top-five cornerback in the league and the rest of the NFL treats him as such. He very likely could be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and few, if any, would bat an eye.

Enough about the defense.

The offense is in a much better spot entering 2023. The Jets replaced Wilson, who completed just 54.5% of his passes for 1,688 yards with six touchdowns against seven interceptions, with Rodgers, who’s a year removed from winning Back-to-Back MVPs. Even Rodgers’ down season in 2022, in which he completed 64.6% of his passes for 3,695 with 26 touchdowns against 12 interceptions would’ve been a historic season for any Jets quarterback, not just Wilson. In a down season, Rodgers would’ve passed for the fifth-most single-season passing yards in franchise history, behind the likes of Joe Namath (1967), Ryan Fitzpatrick (2015), Ken O’Brien (1985), and Vinny Testaverde (2000). Not exactly Murderers’ Row.

But that just goes to show the point here. Even the slightest bit of competent quarterback play will be an upgrade for an offense that features the likes of Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Tyler Conklin, Breece Hall, C.J. Uzomah, Randall Cobb, Jeremy Ruckert, and Michael Carter, to name a few. The biggest hang-up is the team’s offensive line. That was an issue in years past, particularly in 2022, when the team started nine different combinations throughout the season. Any injuries to the offensive line could certainly put the Jets behind the eight ball, but as currently constructed: Duane Brown, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Mekhi Becton, New York are seemingly in a very good spot. However, it only takes a couple of injuries up front to derail a season, and judging by the preseason, the difference between starting and backup-caliber offensive linemen in the NFL is immense.

So with that, it’s time for predictions. We at The Comeback took a crack at predicting the Jets’ schedule game-by-game, here goes nothing.

Buffalo: W (1-0)

@ Dallas: W (2-0)

New England: W (3-0)

Kansas City: L (3-1)

@ Denver: W (4-1)

Philadelphia: L (4-2)


@ New York Giants: W (5-2)

Los Angeles Chargers: W (6-2)

@ Las Vegas: W (7-2)

@ Buffalo: L (7-3)

Miami: W (8-3)

Atlanta: W (9-3)

Houston: W (10-3)

@ Miami: L (10-4)

Washington: W (11-4)

@ Cleveland: L (11-5)

@ New England: W (12-5)

With that, we are predicting that the Jets will win the AFC East, host a playoff game and lose in the AFC Divisional Round to either the Kansas City Chiefs or Cincinnati Bengals. Not this year, Jets fans, but perhaps 2024 is the year Rodgers gets it done and makes that Super Bowl III Lombardi Trophy a little less lonely.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.