The long-awaited Hard Knocks season premiere starring the NY Jets aired last night, and it’s safe to say it lived up to the hype.
The first episode gave an inside look at the Jets training camp and how the entire organization, from players to coaches and fans, is adapting to life with Aaron Rodgers. Here are five takeaways from the season premiere of Hard Knocks.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, NY Jets
Unsurprisingly, the first episode featured a lot of Aaron Rodgers. The organization and their new quarterback seem to be meshing so well, and this episode reinforced that idea.
Rodgers seems happy and refreshed, and the entire organization seems to be embracing him. From Method Man to Liev Schreiber, celebrities are heading to 1 Jets Drive just to see the man practice.
The show did a great job of showing Rodgers as a mentor figure to the younger Jets players, including Zach Wilson, as the two seem to have a good relationship. Rodgers is constantly helping him out with things, both in practice and in the Hall of Fame game.
Another of Rodgers’ relationships highlighted in this episode was with Nathaniel Hackett. The two seem very happy to be back on the same team after a year apart.
Besides Rodgers, Hackett seems to be the kind of offensive coordinator the Jets need, which is a stark contrast from last season.
Nathaniel Hackett, OC, NY Jets
After what happened with Hackett in Denver last year, a lot of fans were skeptical of the Jets hiring Hackett as the new offensive coordinator, albeit that was before Rodgers became a real possibility.
But Hackett seems like the kind of guy the Jets' offense could have used last season. A big emphasis from Hackett seems to be making things fun. He is constantly joking around with Rodgers and the other players and seems to have a great personality.
This is very different from what it seems like Mike LaFleur was last season, who famously got into an argument with Elijah Moore at practice before his trade request.
Hackett and the energy he brings could do wonders for the Jets offense, specifically Wilson, who seems to be responding very well to him and Rodgers, more so than anyone could have expected.
Zach Wilson, QB, NY Jets
As Robert Saleh said in this episode, what Zach Wilson is being asked to do this season is very difficult. From being the second overall pick one year to being benched the next year and being replaced by Rodgers the next year, that's been a rough first three seasons in the NFL.
All of the media attention Rodgers is bringing, how happy all of the teammates, coaches, and fans are to have him, and to add to all of that, having it televised on HBO.
Wilson could have handled this all very differently, but to his credit, he seems to be embracing this new role and understands that learning from Rodgers can only help him.
Wilson admitted how tough his first few years in the league were and how he felt like things were getting worse week by week. He seems to be in higher spirits now and has adjusted to this new role very well.
Sauce Gardner/Garrett Wilson
Another emphasis of the show was how fun the everyday matchup of Garrett Wilson and Sauce Gardner is to watch. The two are so talented and are only making each other better.
Joe Douglas trading Jamal Adams for what turned into Alijah Vera-Tucker and Garrett Wilson could prove to be a pivotal moment in the franchise's history. It allowed the Jets to get a cornerstone on each side of the ball in the 2022 NFL Draft with both Garnder and Wilson.
Gardner’s graduation from the University of Cincinnati was another great addition, showing his character both on and off the field. Wilson seems primed for a huge year with Rodgers, and the two already seem to be developing a good connection.
Robert Saleh, HC, NY Jets
The opening scene of this year’s ‘Hard Knocks’ was a great speech from Saleh about how to approach the season with all the external expectations and shed the ‘same old Jets’ narrative.
A lot of this Jets team is still relatively young and has not had to deal with the expectations that someone like Rodgers has had pretty much his whole career. Saleh seems to understand the importance of helping his players deal with that and seems to be doing a great job.
The Sean Payton situation is a great example of how this team will need someone like Saleh to lead them. Before they even played a game, there was already drama. Saleh seems like the right person to lead them through a season full of it.