Every NFL team goes through its share of trials and tribulations over the course of a season. The NY Jets, obviously, are no exception to that rule. Simply put, the 2023 season was an unmitigated disaster for the organization.
From offseason missteps to coaching malpractice to the ubiquitous impact of Aaron Rodgers' injury, the Jets' organization was put through the figurative wringer in 2023. Much of that, however, was their own doing.
The Athletic's Zack Rosenblatt and Dianna Russini released a report on Wednesday that paints a vivid picture of organizational dysfunction and poor leadership. It tells the story of an NFL team blinded by the star power of one player — a team that refuses to take accountability.
In many ways, nothing that was said in the article should be surprising to anyone who has kept up with the Jets this season. Nathaniel Hackett is not very good at his job. Robert Saleh and the Jets pointed fingers instead of looking in the mirror. Aaron Rodgers has too much power.
It's stuff we've all known, sure, but that story helped shed light on a deeply rooted problem with the current Jets regime. Unfortunately, there's no immediate fix in sight.
The NY Jets might be doomed to fail in 2024
The Athletic's report insists the Jets admitted defeat once Rodgers went down. The plan was no longer to make the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. The team's goal was to win seven games.
The goal was to survive the season with their jobs. Competing was no longer an option — they gave up on that after Week 1. That one fact represents a significant issue with the Jets' organization. They exhibit a loser's mentality.
NFL teams are frequently forced to overcome adversity, oftentimes in the form of injured quarterbacks. Just look at the Cleveland Browns, for example. They lost countless star players this season and started a fourth-string quarterback behind an injury-riddled offensive line.
The Browns did it. They made the playoffs. Heck, they were so good in the regular season that they were able to bench their starters for the final game of the year. The Browns did what the Jets insisted was impossible.
The report goes on to detail Saleh's excessive finger-pointing. On one occasion, Saleh did research on notable NFL head coaches who had lost quarterbacks to injury. He compared himself to those coaches and gave himself a pass because of it.
"That became Saleh’s battle cry as the Jets’ losses piled up and criticism mounted: What do you expect? We lost Aaron Rodgers."- The Athletic
Saleh isn't entirely wrong. He's been put in an incredibly difficult position and has failed as a head coach to this point, largely due to incompetence at the quarterback position. He has every right to be upset about that.
But this report was leaked for a reason. Saleh wasn't shy about his feelings of misfortune. He privately bemoaned to his fellow staffers and members of the organization about how unlucky he had been. He pointed fingers at others. He blamed external factors.
That's not what a so-called "leader of men" should be doing. That's not what an NFL head coach should be doing.
Saleh and the Jets blamed all of their 2023 struggles on the loss of Rodgers. Never mind the horrific offseason that general manager Joe Douglas had. Never mind the complete incompetence shown by the offensive coaching staff.
The Jets firmly believe that Rodgers will fix everything when he returns next season. As The Athletic put it, "Ultimately, the organization believes the solution to most of its problems is simple: the return of Rodgers."
That's a bold proposition, given that Rodgers will be 40 years old, coming off a torn Achilles, and three years removed from the last time he was legitimately great. Even MVP-level Rodgers doesn't fix everything. How much does the 2024 version of Rodgers solve?
Unfortunately, this is the mindset the Jets have adopted. The 2023 season was a mulligan. It was, in all honesty, a waste of everyone's time. The Jets labeled themselves as the victims and conceded before ever even trying — all while a team in the same conference thrived under similar adversity.
The Jets have an organizational mentality problem. It starts with Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh, and it extends up to Woody Johnson.
The entire report from Rosenblatt and Russini is a fantastic read, and I highly encourage anyone who hasn't already to check it out. It paints a much clearer picture of dysfunction than what's stated in this article.
It's possible that Rodgers will return to his MVP level in 2024, and when combined with offseason adjustments, the Jets could break their postseason drought and make some noise in the playoffs. Anything can happen in this sport, and Rodgers has proven time and time again that he shouldn't be counted out.
But ask yourself this — are you willing to bet on that? Are you willing to put your trust in this regime after everything we've seen unfold over the last 12 months? To me, the answer is simple. I'll believe it when I see it.