NY Jets don't need Aaron Rodgers to return to MVP form in 2024

Summer Spotlight: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The perception of the entire NY Jets franchise changed when the team traded for Aaron Rodgers a little over a year ago. Rodgers instantly established the Jets as legitimate Super Bowl contenders following his arrival.

Of course, we all know how Rodgers' first season with the Jets went. Four plays. That's all Jets fans got to see of the most important acquisition in franchise history before a torn Achilles devastatingly ended his season.

Rodgers is back in 2024, and while his presence is a large reason the Jets are once again seen as contenders in the AFC, the team doesn't need him to be the Hall of Fame version of Rodgers we've come to know.

The Jets don't need MVP-level Rodgers to compete for a championship in 2024. That's the beauty of the organization's roster construction, and it's why many, even Rodgers' doubters, believe the Jets are a serious threat to compete in a loaded AFC.

Aaron Rodgers doesn't need to carry the NY Jets on his own

No NFL team has been forced to deal with worse quarterback play over the last handful of seasons than the Jets. From Zach Wilson's historical struggles to the likes of Trevor Siemian and Tim Boyle last year, the Jets' quarterback room has been an unmitigated disaster.

We can use the chart below to depict this. The chart displays the average quarterback efficiency of every qualifying quarterback between the years 2015 and 2023 using the EPA per play and CPOE metrics — two of the most useful QB analytics.

Wilson is in a tier of his own as one of the worst quarterbacks in modern NFL history. The green triangle represents the weighted average of Robert Saleh's quarterbacks since 2021.

The yellow triangle in the top chart represents Rodgers' average efficiency in his consecutive MVP seasons in 2020 and 2021. The yellow triangle in the bottom chart represents Aaron Rodgers' 2022 season (widely seen as a "down" year by his standards).

The Jets don't even need Rodgers to be the 2022 version of himself to experience the single greatest upgrade in quarterback play the NFL has seen in years. They quite literally just need him to be competent.

In other words, the gap in efficiency between Zach Wilson and Brock Osweiler is roughly the equivalent of the gap between Osweiler and Matthew Stafford. That's how bad Wilson was with the Jets.

Yet, this same Jets team still managed to win seven games with Wilson, Siemian, and Boyle (not depicted on the chart) at quarterback last season.

Even accounting for possible defensive regression, there's no reason a Jets team with competent quarterback play shouldn't be seen as a legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl in 2024.

It's unreasonable to expect a 40-year-old Aaron Rodgers coming off a torn Achilles to be anywhere near the player he was during those 2020 and 2021 seasons. The reality is that his floor is quite low, and even expecting him to return to 2022 form might be asking a lot.

Rodgers will likely never be the same as his pre-injury self, at least on a snap-for-snap basis. The intangibles and arm talent are still there, but Rodgers' mobility and escapability — long strengths of his game — likely won't be the same as they were prior to his injury.

Rodgers is a much larger variable than most Jets fans would care to admit, but that really isn't what matters here. The fact remains that even league-average quarterback play would be such a substantial improvement that the Jets could win 12 games with that type of performance.

After all, this is a roster that ESPN's Mike Clay ranked first in the NFL using his weighted analytics system. There are plenty of injury variables, sure, but the expected upgrade in quarterback play cannot be overstated here.

The Jets don't need a Hall of Famer at quarterback in 2024. It would be nice, of course, but the Jets aren't banking on a prime Rodgers carrying them to a Super Bowl this season.

They need competency with a hint of upside. They need a quarterback whose floor allows his team to compete in every single game and whose ceiling is still one of the best to ever do it. That's Aaron Rodgers.

This article is part of the "Summer Spotlight" series on The Jet Press, dedicated to highlighting individual players on the Jets roster throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more features as we provide in-depth profiles and insights on various Jets players before the season kicks off.