When Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos in 2012, the coaching staff adopted the Colts playbook that Manning liked, added a few wrinkles and had their new offense. They signed tight end Jacob Tamme and wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who were Manning favorites, and flirted with signing center Jeff Saturday before he went to the Packers.
In 2020, Tom Brady went to the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay soon signed tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Antonio Brown, both Brady favorites who scored touchdowns in Tampa’s Super Bowl win. One of the major storylines before that Super Bowl was how the turning point of Tampa’s season came during the bye week when Bruce Arians altered his offense to give Brady more control.
“I think Coach [Bruce] Arians gave him a little bit more control over the offense,” LeSean McCoy, a running back on that team, said. “After the bye week, it changed up a little bit. [Brady] got some of his plays, got his tight end a little more involved, play-actions, taking shots down field but also managing the game and that all changed after the bye week.”
That brings us to Aaron Rodgers and the Jets.
Yes, Rodgers has a tremendous amount of influence on the Jets. And he should.
This has become a topic of debate again this week in the wake of an article from The Athletic that has a joke from an opposing general manager about Rodgers being the GM and Joe Douglas being his assistant.
The second acts of Manning and Brady are the only real comparisons for what the Jets are doing with Rodgers. Brett Favre was traded to the Jets in August 2008, so they did not have time to really adapt their system to him. But when you add an all-time great quarterback to your team late in his career, you would be dumb not to listen.
The problem for the Jets is Rodgers has yet to complete a pass for them. He played four snaps, threw one incompletion and then spent the rest of the season as a weekly reminder of what could have been on “The Pat McAfee Show.”
Rodgers is also an easy target. Plenty of people don’t like him and he often comes across as thinking he’s the smartest guy in the room. I get it.
The Jets are also an easy target right now after another disappointing season.
But they did not do anything wrong by taking Rodgers’ advice last season. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb were bad signings. But if Rodgers had been the quarterback, they likely would have been better. Any receiver would have looked better with Rodgers throwing to him instead of Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian. Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks who has ever lived.
Rodgers also was not making every call. You think he told the Jets to draft a defensive end in the first round? Douglas still has plenty of power and he was back on the trail this week in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl.
I don’t think Rodgers will have as much influence over personnel this offseason. The Jets were wooing him last year. Now, they’re married. There will be less romancing this year.
In terms of scheme, the Jets should absolutely cater to Rodgers. They would be idiotic not to. That is why firing Nathaniel Hackett was not on the table after the season. If this is who Rodgers feels comfortable with, then that is who he should be paired with.
Hackett had an inauspicious debut season with the Jets. But maybe he’s Art Garfunkel and he really needs Paul Simon to bring out his talent.
As far as Rodgers’ influence over whether Robert Saleh stayed as coach, I think that has been misrepresented, as well. It’s not like Rodgers stomped his feet and told Woody Johnson he had to keep Saleh. It just makes sense to give Saleh a chance to get a season with Rodgers and see if the plan that Saleh and Douglas came up with last season will work.
It is easy to understand why Jets fans are frustrated. They have been waiting too long for a winner. But Rodgers’ having a loud voice inside the organization is part of the solution, not the problem.