Is there a Hard Knocks curse? Would the Jets make Hard Knocks must see TV? The answer to both, is yes.
I’m kidding. There is not a curse. But it is fair to say that a team has never won in the year they were on the show. The Baltimore Ravens were on the show after reaching and winning the Super Bowl, dropping from 12-4 to 10-6. The Los Angeles Rams won the year after, going 12-5 after going 10-6 on the show.
Now the Jets have been on, and with the result they had, you would think that they would want to be on again. They went 11-5 in 2010, which at this time is their last playoff appearance. That was a 2 game improvement over the previous year. This time, they are coming off a 7-10 season, and got the big fish in Aaron Rodgers.
Before I get to Rodgers, know that the best improvement by a Hard Knocks team was Cleveland, which went from 0-16 to 7-8-1 in 2018. The worst was Kansas City, which dropped from 9-7 to 4-12.
So a Jets franchise that has not reached the playoffs since 2010, and has not won their division since 2002, tries to do something different.
Aaron Rodgers is just one man, but what he represents to this franchise is something special. See, the Jets have only had one 4,000 yard passer in their history, and that was Joe Namath way back in 1967 with 4,007. He only threw for 3,147 yards when they won the Super Bowl the next year.
Rodgers has topped 4,000 yards 9 times.
Much traveled Ryan Fitzpatrick has the only 30 TD season in Jets history, having done so in 2015.
Rodgers has topped that number 7 times.
Even an average season for Rodgers would be an improvement over what they have been getting.
The running game is the next question mark, as they have not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Chris Ivory in 2015. A healthy Breece Hall made them look like a playoff team last year, both as a rusher and a receiver. If he recovers from his ACL injury, that is a plus.
Garrett Wilson was a 1,000 yard receiver as a rookie. He is a budding star, and I would assume that Rodgers will try to use him like Davante Adams. This is a good match.
Rodgers likes to use his tight ends. It is fair to say that Ty Conklin/CJ Uzomah are not as good as the players he is used to working with. Expect a free agent to get some run here.
The offensive line has been offensive over the last couple of years; Mekhi Becton might be a bust. The talk of the Jets’ line hurting Rodgers might be overblown, after all, the Packers have had Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtari out of the lineup on numerous occasions and Aaron handled that well. The one thing the Jets won’t get from him is a running game. His 94 yards rushing is the lowest total he has had since 2007.
Let’s evaluate the special teams next. Losing Braxton Berrios is a huge loss, both as a return man and third or fourth receiver. They go old school, like Bobby Walden/Roy Gerela old. Thomas Morstead and Greg Zuerlein are your specialists, which gets you accuracy, but less distance that their peak 10 years ago.
I think it is fair to call Zuerlein old, as he played football at a school(Omaha) that hasn’t done so for a decade.
The pass rush is good. Not the “Sack Exchange” era with Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, Mark Gastineau and Abdul Salaam, but led by the Williams brothers. John Franklin-Myers is underrated.
Linebackers are question mark, though Will McDonald will be someone to watch when preseason games start.
The secondary is money. Sauce Gardner is a star. Ashtyn Davis and Javelin Guidry have fallen down the depth chart, which is more because of talent coming in than their failings.
Hard Knocks can’t be any tougher than the New York media; time to go national and whip up some buzz for a probable AFC playoff team.