Aaron Rodgers is attempting to pull off the unthinkable feat of returning from an Achilles injury in the same season in which he suffered it.
It once sounded preposterous (and still does, to a degree), but rumblings suggest Rodgers could be back as soon as December. It might be too late to save the Jets’ (4-5) season, but if New York can tread water for the next month or so, Rodgers could return just in time to save the Jets from another postseason spent at home.
At least, that’s the goal. The decision won’t be coach Robert Saleh’s to make, however. He told reporters Wednesday he’ll defer to Rodgers when the time comes to make a final decision on his status.
“Aaron’s a big boy, a grown man, and no one’s going to know Aaron’s body like Aaron knows his body,” Saleh said, via the Associated Press. “And if he feels, after all the doctors clear him — and I’m sure there’s a million of them, I have no idea on that stuff — but if Aaron says he wants to play, he’s going to play.”
A few concerns immediately come to mind when considering the ramifications of a potential December return for Rodgers: Is he truly healthy enough to play? Is he endangering himself and his future with the Jets in order to try to return to save an already lost season? And who’s in charge here, after all?
At this point, Saleh has no reason to resist Rodgers attempting to come back, other than a concern for Rodgers’ well-being. Backup Zach Wilson has been very inconsistent in his starts, occasionally leading the Jets to a win and flashing the potential that once saw New York spend the No. 2 overall pick on him, and compiling absolutely dreadful performances in other outings. The Jets can’t rely on Wilson because they don’t know which version of him they’ll receive on a weekly basis. It’s undoubtedly enticing to consider the mere possibility of Rodgers suiting up in 2023, especially after his season came to a halt in heartbreaking fashion when he tore his Achilles in Week 1.
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But until Rodgers is truly cleared to play, this is nothing more than a dream. Rodgers has noted his timeline will depend on whether the Jets still have a realistic possibility of reaching the playoffs, and at 4-5, their chances are dwindling. But crazier things have happened for teams that seemed destined for January vacations.
“The pressure is to keep it afloat just to keep it afloat,” Saleh said. “You know, the pressure to go to the playoffs is always pressure. It’s not for any one individual. It’s not for any possibility. It’s because we’re competitors and we want to win football games.
“And I think Aaron’s just icing on the cake.”
A Rodgers return would ramp the absurdity up to 11.
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