This past week was a good one for the New York Jets. They opened the practice window for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, just 77 days after he underwent surgery for a torn Achilles. He returned to practice and looked good doing it, delighting his teammates and sparking hope for a brighter future for this beleaguered franchise.
Unfortunately for the Jets and their fans, those better days are far more likely to come in 2024 than 2023. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Rodgers returning and playing any games this season is "unlikely."
This is partially due to timing. While Rodgers, who tore his Achilles just four plays into the season, has recovered from Achilles surgery faster than anyone has ever seen, that doesn't mean he's going to be ready to test it with contact anytime soon. He would need to be completely ready by Dec. 20, the end of his 21-day practice window, to have any chance of playing this season. Rodgers may be a fast healer, but he's not a wizard.
Rodgers also said on a Nov. 28 appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show" that his return would also depend on the Jets' playoff chances. The Jets are 4-7 going into Week 13 and they've struggled mightily on both sides of the ball. Unless they pull off a winning streak that starts right this second and doesn't stop, they are not going to the playoffs.
So that leaves a big question: Why was Rodgers activated if there was essentially no way he was going to play? It's apparently all about the future. According to Rapoport, Rodgers is essentially continuing his rehab in a practice setting, doing nothing different than what he'd be doing if he was rehabbing away from his teammates. Doing his rehab in front of his teammates is reportedly a way to boost morale and show his confidence in those that brought him to the Jets (i.e. head coach Robert Saleh and GM Joe Douglas). Via Rapoport:
Those close to Rodgers say he feels a responsibility and obligation to be back with the team after helping shape it this offseason before suffering the injury so early. Those with the Jets feel Rodgers has shown true leadership.
The 2024 Jets could be a legit contender, and Rodgers wants to show that journey starts right now. Unfortunately, they still have to make it through the rest of the 2023 season without him.