From the sun splashed fields in Mobile, AL, where players are preparing for the Senior Bowl, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said that the believes he Jets are on the right track.
"I think the foundation is really set, it's just a matter of dropping in a Hall of Fame quarterback and hoping he stays healthy all season," Rapoport told team reporter Ethan Greenberg.
Of course, that HOF QB is Aaron Rodgers. And of course Rodgers' health had a profound impact on the Green & White's fortunes in the recently completed 2023 season and will have the same profound impact next season on the team's goal of making the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2010.
"This year they showed a lot of resiliency," Rapoport, the network's NFL Insider, said. "Basically five plays into the season they knew it would be a really uphill battle to win some games. They had their moments [with wins over Buffalo, Philadelphia and Houston, all playoff teams], played well [vs. Kansas City], fought hard, but it was not to be."
When it comes to Rodgers, Rapoport acknowledged the elite 40-year-old athlete's rehab last season should help his timeline in 2024.
"He should be really good, he should be Aaron Rodgers," Rapoport said. "For him, his athleticism has always been something that sets him apart. If he tore his Achilles [tendon] in December or January, I would say let's see what happens in training camp. But he tore it so early and he pushed so hard in rehab that I think he will be fine. The most common explanation about why he was able to recover as fast is that he puts in more hours than anyone. He just works a lot more and that's a really good way to do it, but I think it also sets him up well for next season."
Rodgers was (and is) expected to be the steely veteran surrounded by a hungry and emerging group of talented young players. That list includes WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, C Joe Tippmann, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker and others. Challenges remain, however, particularly on an offensive line that needs obvious attention.
"They have really good young players at all the key spots," Rapoport said. "The offensive line has to be addressed and this is a really good tackle draft. Everybody is wondering if they're going to draft a tackle or get one in free agency, whatever it is. I think, obviously, the offensive line will be a focus. Other than that, they got talent all over the place, a team that I think is built well and a team that's built the right way. They just need a quarterback who is healthy and just go out there and win."
He added: "I thought they were close this year, and would have been in [the playoffs] with Rodgers healthy. They're in a really good position, you can always improve talent and get a little bit better. I'm just not sure other than the offensive line where there's a glaring place. This looks like a team that's ready to roll."