Aaron Rodgers USATSI New York Jets
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When the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers' NFL home of 18 seasons (2005-2022), agreed to send the four-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl XLV MVP to the Big Apple via trade, Rodgers became the best quarterback to ever put on a Jets uniform. That's not an exaggeration. 

Aaron Rodgers vs. every Jets QB since 1970 NFL/AFL merger


Seasons with 4,000 pass yards



Seasons with 30 pass TD






Playoff record



Super Bowl wins



The price for Gang Green to acquire the Packers' all-time passing touchdowns leader (475, the fifth-most in NFL history) was, of course, steep. The Jets acquired Green Bay's 15th overall draft pick (first round) and a fifth-round selection (No. 170) in addition to Rodgers in exchange for the Jets' 13th overall draft choice (first round), a second-round pick (No. 42), a sixth-round pick (No. 207) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that will become a first-rounder should Rodgers play at least 65 percent of New York's offensive plays in 2023. So, the Jets moved back two spots in the 2023 NFL Draft, which cost them the chance to select one of the top-tier offensive tackle prospects in the most recent class, coughed up a second-round pic, and what's likely to be an additional first-round pick. 

It was a deal they needed to do after quarterback Zach Wilson, the Jets' second overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft, became the first passer since Ed Brown in 1957-58 with the worst passer rating in the NFL in back-to-back seasons. Rodgers, on the other hand, has led the NFL in passer rating four times and has the second-highest career passer rating ever, 103.6. 

However, New York isn't acquiring the Rodgers who played like the league's back-to-back NFL MVP that he was in 2020 and 2021. They're acquiring a 39-year-old version who turns 40 in December after coming off arguably his worst NFL season: his 91.1 passer rating in 2022 was the lowest of his 15-year tenure as the Packers starting quarterback. 

Aaron Rodgers in 2022


Pass Yards



Pass Yards/Attempt



Passing Touchdowns






Passer Rating



Despite the struggles a year ago, there are plenty of clear, explainable reasons for his step back. Let's take a look at each of them and why each likely won't be an issue entering his first season with the Jets. 

A return to health

Much of the 39-year-old's 2022 play can be explained by the broken right thumb he played though since the last play of Week 5 -- a 27-22 loss against the New York Giants in London.   

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott missed five games to heal from a similar injury. Rodgers opted to tough it out and play in all 17 games -- with an improved Jordan Love breathing down his neck -- most of which he had a significant amount of tape wrapped around his thumb and palm on his throwing hand. Watching him throw week to week, it was clear Rodgers didn't have the same laser-like accuracy that has become a staple of his Hall of Fame career.  

Yes, it's still only training camp, but this video from one of the team's first camp practices indicates Rodgers' pinpoint accuracy is back after his thumb had time to heal over the course of the offseason.

It will be critical for the Jets offensive line to improve their pass-blocking in front of the 39-year-old Rodgers, who isn't nearly the same scrambler was he was even a few years. New York's 35.9% quarterback pressure rate allowed in 2022 was the seventh-worst in the NFL last season. An opportunity to improve arose in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft when New York selected Wisconsin center Joe Tippman 43rd overall. Like a typical Badgers offensive lineman, Tippman was steady in college, allowing only one sack in his 590 pass-blocking snaps across the last two seasons. He also represents the Jets' highest-drafted center since selecting Nick Mangold, seven-time Pro Bowler, 29th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. A return to health for offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, the Jets' 11th overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, plus the Tippman addition could be enough of a boost. 

A unified playbook

"I didn't quite understand what we were doing at times on offense and my job was to take care of the football, and I did [in 2019] … But I felt there was so much more," Aaron Rodgers said on the "Aubrey Marcus Podcast" on March 2 when talking about what it was like playing in head coach Matt LaFleur's offense in their first year together. "And then they [the Packers] drafted my replacement and I won MVP twice."

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur brought an offense to Green Bay that is diametrically opposed to former head coach Mike McCarthy's West Coast offense that Rodgers spent 13 seasons mastering. The Packers lined up in shotgun formation 52.8% of the time from 2006-2018, the third-highest rate in the NFL. LaFleur's system is a derivative of what Mike Shanahan ran as the head coach of the Denver Broncos for 14 seasons (1995-2008), yielding two Super Bowls. The Shanahan offense is based around lining up under center, running the football off of zone blocking schemes, regular pre-snap motion usage and play-action passing. 

In short, an offensive scheme designed to make a quarterback's life more simple by allowing them to diagnose a defense more easily through utilizing many similar formations, making the run and the pass look the same. That way a quarterback can rely on the pre-snap motion and play-action plays to find receivers to throw to without having to think as much. Rodgers, one of the best in NFL history at pre-snap audibles and quickly identifying mismatches on his own, has referred to the West Coast offense as "the most beautiful offense in football" on many occasions because of its simplicity where the quarterback just goes from one route progression to another with much more of the decision-making process on the passer's shoulders instead of his coaches'.

In 2019, he had an efficient, but lower volume season by his standards, throwing for 26 touchdowns and four interceptions while totaling just over 4,000 passing yards in Year 1 with LaFleur. Rodgers thrived in 2020 and 2021, winning back-to-back NFL MVPs while the Packers went 26-6 in his starts. Those 26 wins are tied for the most in the NFL during those two seasons with the Kansas Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes starting at quarterback. He also led the entire league in passing touchdowns (85), touchdown-to-interception ratio (85-9) and passer rating (116.7) across the 2020 and 2021 seasons. 

During Rodgers' return to his peak performance in those back-to-back MVP seasons, the team leaned into lined up under center 40.5% of the time, the 10th-highest rate in the NFL. Looking more like LaFleur's offense -- with the head coach calling the team's offensive plays and Rodgers for the most part sticking to them -- led to an incredibly more efficient offense.

Packers offensive ranking under Matt LaFleur since 2019



23.5 (15th)

29.1 (3rd)

21.8 (14th)

Total YPG

345.5 (18th)

376.9 (8th)

337.9 (17th)

Red Zone TD Pct

64% (8th) 

68.5% (3rd)

51.9% (24th)

Under Center Rate

39.1% (13th)

40.5% (10th)

31.1% (22nd)

Play-Action Rate

16.4% (12th)

16.5% (15th)

15.2% (17th)

Motion Rate41.9% (12th)51.3% (7th)56.7% (8th)

* Aaron Rodgers won back-to-back NFL MVPs

However, Rodgers and the Packers simultaneously struggled when they went away from the offense's foundational staples of going under center and utilizing play-action. Since the 2022 season had both the lowest under center (31.1%) and play-action (15.2%) rates of LaFleur's four-season tenure in Green Bay, the Packers went 8-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time under their current head coach. A stark contrast to the Packers' three years in a row with 13-win seasons, the only such streak in NFL history. Rodgers also had the worst single-season passer rating of his career in 2022, 91.1, after he and the team shifted to the way he preferred to play and away from LaFleur's style of offense, more shotgun and more route progressions based on his ability to read the field. The shift coincidentally occurred following Rodgers receiving a three-year, $150 million contract extension from the Packers front office. 

"There's certain things situationally that could occur a little bit differently, but we give obviously for a lot of reasons, we give Aaron the liberty to, especially situationally, to get us out of the look based on what the defense is presenting," LaFleur said in the middle of the 2022 season when Green Bay started 3-6. "I have total faith and trust that he's going to put the guys in the best spot. When it doesn't work out, it's easy to second-guess everything. That's the nature of our business, a results-oriented business."

When LaFleur was then pressed on what the specific issues were with the team's offensive struggles, he bluntly assessed the issues. The head coach spread the blame "collectively" opting not to fault Rodgers for likely audibling out of his play calls.

"Obviously not putting the guys in the right spots," LaFleur said when asked what he is doing differently after the team won 13 games in each of his first three seasons as head coach. "Collectively, everybody could all be a little bit better and we have to for us to win games. It's unfortunate that we're in this situation, but we are."

With the Jets, Rodgers will have no such schematic clash like he did at times with LaFleur, sometimes even watching plays fail and then turning back toward the sideline and shrugging. Longtime Packers teammate and current Jets teammate of Rodgers, wide receiver Allen Lazard, called New York's offense the "Aaron Rodgers offense." Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who held the same title in Green Bay from 2019-2021 under LaFleur but didn't call plays, has a phenomenal relationship with Rodgers, who calls the coach a "dear friend." New York's playbook will look exactly the way Rodgers wants it, which may help the offense flow more smoothly than it did in Green Bay a year ago. 

"I'm like a teacher's assistant at this point," Jets wide receiver Allen Lazard said on July 20 when asked about getting everyone in New York on the same page with the offense he and Rodgers have been running in Green Bay for years. "A lot of the coaches are learning Aaron's, Hackett's philosophy with the scheme and everything. I've been very fortunate in my career to stay in the same system with the same language with the same quarterback.... It's the Aaron Rodgers offense. When he's on the field, the whole playbook is open at any given time, even during Day 1 of practice. It might be something we haven't talked about in meetings. He did that in the first walkthrough yesterday."

The four-time league MVP admitted in his training camp press conference that attack the Jets are running this year has more of his preferred "West Coast flavor."

"Well listen, I'm not going to say it's 'my' offense," Rodgers said on July 20. "It's one I've had success in, for sure. But back in 2020, it was a conglomeration of what Matt [LaFleur] wanted to run, what Hack had run in the past, and what I had run in the past. So, we just fit together. And this is kind of an offshoot of that with maybe a little more West Coast flavor to it, but this is really Hackett's offense that I've been able to collaborate with him on. And I love it, but there is a lot of teaching for sure."

Everyone being on the same page offensively from the players on the field to the coaches on the sideline should help Rodgers get off to a smoother start in 2023 than he did in 2022. 

Eager to connect 

Following the Packers' decision to trade up in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and select Rodgers' eventual successor, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love, Rodgers slowly dialed back on his focus and commitment to the team. He spent the last three offseasons going through a public play-or-retirement debate, which he utilized to skip Packers organized team activities and minicamps in the 2021 and 2022 offseasons.

His rationale when asked over those years about skipping the opportunity to throw and build chemistry with teammates during those years was the importance of teammates mastering LaFleur's "paper offense" before playing in the "on-field offense" with him. That worked when his top four receivers were All-Pro Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Randall Cobb in 2020 and 2021 -- players with years of experiences playing alongside the future Hall of Famer --, but that approach burned him and the Packers offense in 2022 when two of his top four receivers were rookies, 2022 second-round pick Christian Watson and 2022 fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs. 

The Packers offense was out of synch for the first half of 2022 partly because of the offense's lack of chemistry and Rodgers' lack of trust in his new wideouts. Things didn't start clicking fully until Weeks 13-17 when they won four in a row to entering the final game of the season with a shot at the playoffs. Fortunately for the Jets, Rodgers has admitted to being more patient with new teammates, and he was a full participant in New York's OTAs earlier in the offseason. 

"I feel like I've grown a lot over the years, some of that is the well-documented plant medicine journeys I've talked about, but the other is perspective," Rodgers said. "As you get older, you see things more clearly, and hindsight is 20/20. You try and rectify some of the things you did a certain way that you feel like you could've done better. I feel like it's important to have patience, in shorts and helmets in the first few days of camp. Sometimes patience can wear thin with some repeat mistakes, but we're building this thing right now. We want to build it the right way. I would say earlier in my career I was more easily angered, and I feel like I'm a little less triggered as I've gotten older."  

Rodgers may have also found his new Davante Adams in a player who wears the same No. 17, 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson. 

"Yeah," Rodgers said when asked if Garrett Wilson reminds him of Davante Adams. "Look, I love Davante. I saw him this summer. Davante is in a category by himself still, but that 17 [Wilson] reminds me of the other 17 [Adams] as far as his [Wilson's] ability to get in and out of breaks and his quick twitch at the line of scrimmage, for sure."  

With Rodgers revitalized by a new team, his preferred offensive system, and putting in work with fresh faces, the Jets could soar to heights not seen since the 2010, their last playoff appearance that ended with a trip to the AFC Championship Game. Wilson revealed he's comfortable raising the expectations all the way to the top with Rodgers throwing him and the rest of the New York pass-catchers the football: being able to win the second Super Bowl in Jets history, the first since Hall of Famer Joe Namath and company's victory in Super Bowl III to cap the 1968 season. 

"I ain't going to fake it, we play to win the game," Wilson said on July 20. "I'm not going to beat around the bush. I want to win the Super Bowl. You don't make moves like we did in the offseason unless you're trying to get there. We want to have those expectations as athletes...We know where we want to get and personally, I think it's ok to talk about it. We want to go get it, that's cool."