HC Robert Saleh: To have a guy like Aaron Rodgers want to play for Jets ‘shows how far we’ve come’
There’s a holding pattern in a potential Jets trade for Aaron Rodgers, but New York is still making moves.
Speaking to NFL Network’s Judy Battista on Sunday at the Annual League Meeting, head coach Robert Saleh addressed those acquisitions, as well as the Rodgers-sized elephant in the room.
“Two years ago when we first got there, just thinking about where we were and how far we’ve come,” Saleh said about Rodgers declaring his intention to join the club. “To have a guy like him want to play for us is pretty cool and shows how far we’ve come. But we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”
As flattered as he might be, Saleh gave away little when prompted for an update: “We’ve got nothing for you.”
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The team Saleh inherited two years ago had just finished 2-14, its worst season since 1996. After improving by two wins in Saleh’s first year, the young Jets made an early push for the playoffs in 2022 before fading, tailspinning from 7-4 into a six-game losing streak down the stretch due to inconsistences at the quarterback position.
The bumpy road led to a possible marriage with a four-time Associated Press Most Valuable Player, but the roster is locked and loaded for contention even as nothing has come to fruition yet on the QB front.
Most notably, the Jets have reshuffled and bolstered their wide receiver room, adding Rodgers’ buddy Allen Lazard and former Chiefs speedster Mecole Hardman before waving the white flag on 2021 second-rounder Elijah Moore by trading him to Cleveland.
Lazard, one of the premier blocking WRs in the league, also posted career highs as a pass catcher last season with 60 receptions for 788 yards. Hardman, meanwhile, managed 297 receiving yards and four scores in eight games during an injury-shortened campaign but boasts tantalizing potential when healthy and given room to run.
“It’s a dynamic room,” Saleh said. “Lazard and Corey (Davis) make our two very big receivers who can provide a lot in terms of the run game and getting those big-body, big-boy routes and those hard, over-the-middle concepts. And you’ve got Mecole Hardman, who just has blazing speed. Adding that speed element to our group. Garrett (Wilson), obviously, coming back. Hopefully he continues to get better. We’ve got a bunch of young guys, too, that we’re really excited about that we’re hoping can develop. It’s a really exciting group of receivers.”
Just as the running game would presumably open up for Breece Hall and others, New York’s potential in the WR room would take on an even greater shine should a trade for Rodgers be completed.
Meanwhile, the other side of the ball does not necessitate any league-altering transaction to become a problem. It already is one.
Built on cornerstones like Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who put together his first All-Pro season last year, the Jets ranked fourth in both points and yards allowed in 2022.
So, while acquiring an all-time QB would make keeping up with the glut of great quarterbacks populating the AFC easier, Saleh does not lack confidence when it comes to stopping them.
“You look the quarterbacks,” he admitted. “But they’ve still got to deal with us.”
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