Aaron Rodgers knows what he needs to do to feel good and ready for the regular season better than I do.
“Hard Knocks” will have a more compelling episode with Aaron Rodgers playing in Saturday night’s preseason finale against the Giants than with him on the sideline with headphones, watching Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle.
If you are the Jets’ fan, you cannot wait for the moment No. 8 trots into his huddle, your huddle.
You are also the Jets’ fan, which means you have seen the unfathomable and the unimaginable (cough, Buttfumble) and the inconceivable and the incomprehensible (cough, IK Enemkpali breaking Geno Smith’s jaw in locker room, cough, Neil O’Donnell pulling a calf muscle backpedaling in the end zone during pregame warm-ups).
FDR apparently wasn’t a Jets fan. The only thing you have to fear is not fear itself.
It is another “Only the Jets” moment.
And so this all-too-familiar disturbing sense of dread and trepidation is gripping you as your Hall of Fame quarterback, your savior, trots into his huddle, your huddle.
You can be excused for asking yourself: Is the reward worth the risk?
I say No.
I would keep Aaron Rodgers in Bubble Wrap.
I say no, recognizing that I’m not here to deliver you a Lombardi Trophy.
That if Rodgers says yes, if he wants and believes he needs this dress rehearsal, well, it’s clear as day that he gets what he wants when he wants it.
Even if Robert Saleh is still searching for his five best men to serve as bodyguards for the crown jewel.
If Rodgers is adamant that he wants and needs the feel of live game action, be it against Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams and Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari or second-teamers fighting for their Giants lives, just get him out of there after one possession, just as Brian Daboll did with Daniel Jones last Friday night.
Is there another quarterback anywhere who knows his offense as well as Aaron Rodgers knows the Aaron Rodgers Offense?
Last time I checked, the Sept. 11 regular-season home opener against the Bills would be two weeks of invaluable fine-tuning practices away.
I get that it would be beneficial for Rodgers to get a chance to fine-tune the operation with OC Nathaniel Hackett. And sure it would be nice to throw to Garrett Wilson for the first time in a game (of sorts). Sure it would be nice to rep the quarterback-center exchange with Connor McGovern.
I ask myself: Is the reward worth the risk?
I tell myself: No.
Tackle Duane Brown, who turns 38 on Aug. 30, is expected to be removed from the PUP list any time now. The alternative tackles are Max Mitchell, Billy Turner and … Mekhi Becton. LG Laken Tomlinson and RG Alijah Vera-Tucker will be returning to practice this week. So there’s that. Becton brutalized the Bucs reserves on Saturday night for what it’s worth and is champing at the bit for a promotion.
Brett Favre played two preseason series against the Commanders and the first half against the Giants after joining the Jets in August 2008, but he didn’t have the comfort of an offensive coordinator he knew and trusted (Hackett), or wide receivers he knew and trusted (Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb). Nor did he participate in any offseason activities with the Packers after announcing that March one of his umpteenth retirements before changing his mind.
Injuries can happen. Jets fans, of course, might remind you of the time Chad Pennington was tackled from behind by Giants LB Brandon Short in a 2003 preseason game and suffered a dislocated and fractured left wrist that sidelined him for nine weeks.
Or he or she might remind you of the time that Rex Ryan decided to insert Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter of the 2013 Snoopy Bowl against the Giants. Sanchez suffered a shoulder separation and lost his job to Smith.
Eli Manning needed 12 stitches for a three-inch cut on his forehead in a 2010 preseason game against the Jets. IronManning played the first half 12 days later against the Ravens and two possessions in the preseason finale against the Patriots.
“It was good to get back out on the field and get playing,” Manning said at the time. “As a quarterback, obviously, the most important thing in the preseason is getting used to getting hit again.”
Better that Aaron Rodgers, who last played in the preseason in 2018, gets used to getting hit again when the games start to count.
Todd Bowles had Tom Brady play in the third preseason game last summer after Brady had been excused from training camp for 11 days for personal reasons and missed the first two preseason games. He played one possession (6-for-8, 44 yards) even after the Bucs had lost trusted center Ryan Jensen earlier in training camp.
“It’s important for game continuity,” Bowles said at the time. “We have some new guys on the O-line. We have some new guys at receiver.” (Brady was 18-for-27 for 212 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT in the season-opening win over the Cowboys).
Prior to playing in the second preseason game in 2018 against the Eagles, Brady said: “They’re important. If it was a waste of time, we wouldn’t do it.” (He didn’t play in the preseason finale against the Giants and was 26-for-39 for 277 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in a 27-20 win over the Texans in the opener).
Nobody is suggesting it is a waste of time.
It’s just that I ask myself: Is the reward worth the risk?
I tell myself: No.
But I’m not the designated savior of the New York Jets.
I’m not Aaron Rodgers.
But make it a cameo.
Get him the hell out of there in a Big Apple minute.
And from the moment he trots into his huddle, your huddle, everyone from Woody Johnson to Joe Benigno will either have his fingers crossed, or say a prayer. And should.