The post-Aaron Rodgers Era began much too soon on Wednesday for the Jets, began much too soon with Zach Wilson, but there were no reports of tears streaming down the cheeks of that lonely Lombardi Trophy standing inside the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
Go ahead and write the obituary on these defiant Jets.
They won’t be reading it.
They will be too busy rallying around Zach Wilson instead.
“I don’t know how anybody could be writing our obituary when we just beat the Buffalo Bills with the same exact team that we’re gonna go on with the rest of the year,” John Franklin-Myers told The Post, “so to me it’s weird that anybody could be writing us off because we just beat a playoff team last year, one of the best teams in the NFL last year.
“But again, everybody was looking forward to seeing Aaron Rodgers and we were all looking forward to playing with him. But, the truth of the matter is, that’s not what’s gonna happen, so we move forward with what we have and what we have beat the Buffalo Bills last week so on to the Dallas Cowboys.”
What they have is Zach Wilson instead of Aaron Rodgers. That, in a nutshell, is why obituaries were being written on the 2023 Jets season.
“They trippin,’” Breece Hall told The Post. “Yeah we lost our quarterback but we have another guy that we believe in, and Aaron’s gonna continue to mentor him and help him, and he’s gonna continue to get better throughout each game, so we still got every piece we need.”
But what they also are quick to tell you they have an elite defense that can finally force turnovers, and a healthier Hall and a dynamic Garrett Wilson and AFC Special Teams Player of the Week rookie Xavier Gipson.
“Aaron Rodgers is a huge loss, and let’s not ever discredit that,” Franklin-Myers said, “but when something like that happens, all you do is turn to the next person, you say, ‘Look man, now you understand, Zach, you’re at a different level now, you were a backup quarterback, now you’re a starting quarterback,’ he understands the sense of urgency he needs in order to take over that role, and he portrayed it in the game.”
Ain’t dead yet.
“We’re never dead,” C.J. Uzomah told The Post. “Whatever anybody else wants to say they can say, but we know what we have, we know what we’re capable of and we know what we’re gonna do.”
They know they are not willing to stop dreaming that Super Bowl dream they could dream with Aaron Rodgers.
“We have all the talent to make a run, the same run that we had planned and talked about since we started,” Connor McGovern said.
McGovern then referenced Robert Saleh’s “Hard Knocks” speech about how the eagle kills off the crow that dares to attack it. “It just means we gotta fly a little higher,” he said.
The logical formula with Wilson is a heavier dose of Ground & Pound.
“The confidence he’s playing with is awesome, and everybody sees it,” McGovern said. “He has that swagger. I think when he came in, he had a nice swagger about him. I think he lost it a little bit over the course, and it’s back. It’s back and better than ever. The way he’s carrying himself around the locker room, around the building, is awesome. That quarterback has to have that swagger, it’s such an important role, and the way that they walk around means everything, and it’s little stuff, and he has that back.
“I’m ready to see him prove people wrong.”
Go ahead and write about funeral services that will be held for the New York Jets …
“I think we have too much talent,” McGovern said. “There was an allure to get Aaron here for a reason, and that’s the talent we have. … We have every piece to be a phenomenal football team, and we are a good football team.”
So you’re not dead yet.
“Nope. Not even close,” McGovern said.
It is unrealistic to expect Wilson to author any Kurt Warner miracle Super Bowl story, but with enough of a supporting cast, there is no reason why Playoffs-or-Bust should not be the expectation for him in this NFL.
“We have a team who is never out of any game, and at the end of the day, you have to deal with us,” Franklin-Myers said. “You can say what you want about the Dallas Cowboys or the Chiefs, whoever it may be, at the end of the day they gotta come play us.
“And when it’s time to come play us, defense, we’re gonna fly around, we’re gonna be physical and we’re gonna get after the quarterback. … Offense, they’re gonna wear their ass down, we’re gonna make plays in the run and the pass, special teams, you see what we did in special teams.”
The directive for Aaron Rodgers was always:
Go win the game.
The directive now for Zach Wilson, with a defense that should keep him in every game:
Manage the game. Don’t lose the game.
“It makes wins a little sweeter if people write you off and you get to prove people wrong,” Tyler Conklin told The Post.
So this team’s not dead yet.
“Oh no,” Conklin said, “we’re far from dead. Far from dead.”
Hold the obituary.
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