EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The second the Jets will keep in mind from Saturday evening was the primary landing cross Aaron Rodgers tossed whereas carrying their uniform. It was a reasonably throw into a decent window to his new No. 1 receiver and it fired their followers up.
However that is not the second that introduced the Jets’ followers to the perimeters of their seats.
That second got here one collection earlier, when new Giants linebacker Isaiah Simmons flushed the Jets’ prized possession from the pocket and despatched him on the run. Simmons even lunged at Rodgers, bought a chunk of his foot and despatched the 39-year-old quarterback stumbling in the direction of the sidelines.
It was sufficient to trigger 50 years of flashbacks for long-suffering Jets followers and everybody else related to a franchise that has at all times appeared cursed. It induced the 20,000 or so Jets followers at this Giants house sport to clutch their chests and maintain their breath.
Possibly the one one who noticed the brilliant facet was Jets coach Robert Saleh — the person who risked every thing by placing Rodgers into this meaningless preseason finale.
“It was good for him,” Saleh stated after the Jets completed off a 32-24 win over the Giants. “He wants a bit of that motion. It was good to indicate he nonetheless has mobility. He nonetheless has legs.”
Extra importantly, these legs are nonetheless in a single piece and so is Rodgers, the newest savior of this star-crossed franchise. He performed 10 performs on this sport and completed 5 of 8 for 47 yards, together with that pretty, 14-yard landing cross to Garrett Wilson.
However none of that mattered as a lot as the truth that he walked off the sphere below his personal energy and did not have to cease within the trainers’ room after the sport.
“I bought in. I did not get harm,” Rodgers stated when requested to evaluate his efficiency. “It was a great evening.”
The Jets after all hope that is the primary of many good nights — presumably sufficient to maintain them taking part in all the best way to Tremendous Bowl LVIII. That hope is why the selection to play Rodgers in what was his first preseason sport since 2018 appeared like such an pointless danger. Even worse, it was spit within the face of the Jets’ ugly historical past, the place they’ve confirmed to not be immunized in opposition to crushing accidents to their quarterbacks in preseason video games. Their diehards keep in mind how they misplaced beginning quarterback Chad Pennington to a fractured wrist within the annual Giants-Jets preseason sport in 2003, and the way they misplaced quarterback Mark Sanchez for the season to a shoulder damage when he was mindlessly despatched in to play within the fourth quarter of the Giants-Jets preseason sport in 2013.
It felt like tempting destiny to ship one other beginning quarterback out for this intra-city battle contemplating what appeared to be taking place each 10 years, like clockwork. Saleh defined it in the course of the week by saying “You possibly can’t coach scared. You possibly can’t play scared.”
Nonetheless, was there a Jets fan anyplace on the planet who did not spend Saturday evening fully scared?
However hey, all of it labored out. Rodgers is ok and he bought two entire collection with the beginning offense in opposition to a Giants protection made up of backups and different gamers who can be out of the NFL by the tip of the week. The season, the dream and the excitement that has made the Jets the discuss of New York all lives on.
Was it definitely worth the danger? Did Saleh get what he wished out of Rodgers’ time operating the offense?
Exhausting as it might be to imagine, his reply to each was: Sure.
“I believe all of it helps,” Saleh stated. “As a lot as we felt it could be good for him on the market, it was simply pretty much as good for his teammates (to get used to him). It might solely assist. Does it reply all our questions main into Sept. 11? No. However not less than it offers us a step in the suitable course.”
It was a small step, to make certain. The nice is that Rodgers confirmed he can nonetheless make some very fast and correct throws. He additionally confirmed some chemistry with Wilson — a mix the Jets are going to characteristic all 12 months lengthy. He confirmed wheels — considerably — when he bought away from the speedy Simmons (virtually). And whereas his landing cross to Wilson was helped by an undrafted rookie (Gemon Green) who did not hassle to look again on the ball, it was nonetheless a heck of a throw proper over the nook and proper into his receiver’s fingers.
And Rodgers bought what he admitted had been “butterflies” out of the best way, taking part in for a brand new staff and in a brand new metropolis for the primary time in his 19-year profession. He stated the standing ovation he bought from the group when he took the sphere loosened him up.
The gang, although, could not loosen up till he left the sphere after his second collection and did not head to the medical tent. Solely then might all of them lastly exhale.
So all of them dodged a bullet and prevented what would have been a really Jet-like disaster, which did certainly make this a great evening in New York. For what? That is tougher to say. It was a bit style for the followers who’re dreaming of the tip to a playoff drought that may be a dozen years and counting. It was a bit preview for the gamers who’ve thus far solely had the Aaron Rodgers expertise at observe.
But it surely wasn’t way more than that.
“It was a begin,” Saleh stated. “It does not imply a lot. We have got to see the place it goes.”
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports activities, masking the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the earlier six years masking the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and earlier than that, 16 years masking the Giants and the NFL for the New York Every day Information. Comply with him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.
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