Jets sense Rodgers’ frustration after spotty drill

Jets sense Rodgers’ frustration after spotty drill
  • Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff WriterAug 9, 2023, 03:59 PM ET


      Rich Cimini is a staff writer who covers the New York Jets and the NFL at ESPN. Rich has covered the Jets for over 30 years, joining ESPN in 2010. Rich also hosts the Flight Deck podcast. He previously was a beat writer for the New York Daily News and is a graduate of Syracuse University. You can follow him via Twitter @RichCimini.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Aaron Rodgers, facing a different team for the first time as the New York Jets‘ quarterback, got a little sampling of what playing the position was like for his predecessors.

Rodgers, who was pressured by the Carolina Panthers‘ pass rush in a joint practice Wednesday, ended a spotty day for the Jets’ offense with an ugly three-and-out in a two-minute drill.

Perhaps for the first time, Rodgers’ teammates sensed frustration from their new quarterback.

“I sensed frustration from everybody — everybody on the O-line, Aaron, the coaches,” center Connor McGovern said. “You can’t go three-and-out in a two-minute drive like that. … I think there was disappointment from the whole team.”

Before a larger-than-usual crowd at Wofford College — 10,217 tickets were distributed — Rodgers was flushed from the pocket on his final two plays and threw incomplete passes, an abrupt end to the day for the Jets’ first-string offense.

Meanwhile, Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young marched the length of the field in the two-minute drill for a field goal against the Jets’ defensive starters.

Trying to maintain an even keel, Rodgers didn’t sound concerned after practice, although he noted that the pass protection wasn’t up to par.

“I thought we maybe didn’t have the same type of energy [as Carolina], for whatever reason, at the start of practice,” Rodgers said. “But I thought there were some good things — a lot of learning tape out there. I thought it was good to be out there against a different defense. I thought we handled the front pretty well in the run game. Pass game, there were some issues.”

Since arriving in April, Rodgers has been patient and encouraging with his new teammates as they try to learn a new playbook, according to players. He’s one of only four players with experience in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s offense.

At some point, though, Rodgers’ patience might start to wear thin.

“I could see that changing, yeah,” wide receiver Corey Davis said. “He’s been real patient, real lenient with us, and working with us and making sure we get everything down, which is what we need. But I could imagine it going the other way if it doesn’t pick up.”

The Jets were without three injured starters on offense: wide receiver Garrett Wilson (ankle), running back Breece Hall (knee) and left tackle Duane Brown (shoulder). They’re also dealing with some moving parts on the offensive line, which is considered the biggest question mark on the team.

The Jets are rotating tackles on a daily basis, with Max Mitchell and Billy Turner switching sides. Brown eventually will step into the left tackle job, but New York isn’t saying when he will be activated from the physically unable to perform list. Coach Robert Saleh said, however, that there’s “no question” that Brown will be ready for Week 1.

“I feel like the interior has been a bright spot, pretty consistent for us, both the first and second group,” Rodgers said. “We just need a little more consistency on the edge.”

Rodgers, who didn’t play last week in the Hall of Fame Game, also won’t be playing in Saturday’s game against the Panthers. The four-time MVP might not play at all in the preseason, making it imperative that he get practice reps with his starting line to build chemistry. Although he downplayed that notion, calling it “overrated,” Rodgers did say he’d like to solidify a lineup in the near future.

“We’ll figure it out,” he said. “There are a few jobs up for grabs, for sure. It will be nice to see somebody [in the] next couple weeks to grab one of those.”

Rodgers had kind words for Young, the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, calling himself a fan of the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner’s playing style and offering some career advice when asked by a reporter.

“Be gentle with yourself — it’s a long journey,” Rodgers said. “It feels like every little snap and practice is the end of the world if it doesn’t go right.

“It’s just not true. It’s a long, long journey. It’s about holding on to your confidence and enjoying the ride, enjoying the little things every day. But I think he’s got a great head on his shoulders, and he’ll be just fine.”

Young said he met Rodgers for the first time during pre-practice warmups.

“When you talk about Aaron Rodgers, he’s had so much success for so long,” Young said. “Any advice that he gives, I’ll definitely be receptive to and listen to.”

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