- Aaron Rodgers believes Zach Wilson still has a future as a starting quarterback
- He admitted to having ‘personal guilt’ over the Wilson and the Jets’ struggles
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Aaron Rodgers is refusing to call it quits on benched quarterback Zach Wilson’s NFL career, new Jets starter Tim Boyle, his own comeback attempt, and the New York’s ongoing 2023 campaign, he told ESPN’s Pat McAfee on Tuesday.
Rodgers, who has been out since rupturing his Achilles in his Jets debut, said he recently began running on a treadmill and still hopes to return to play this season for the 4-6 team. But while some question whether it’s worth risking further injury to play for a sub-.500 team, Rodgers insists the Jets still have everything left to play for.
‘Listen, there’s been some 4-6 teams that have made runs over the years: back in 2016 there was a team in the NFC North that went on a run,’ he said, refencing his Packers days when the team finished the regular season and playoffs on an eight-game winning streak before falling in the conference championship game.’
Rodgers spent much of his weekly interview with McAfee praising the recently benched Wilson, who was demoted behind Boyle following Sunday’s 32-6 loss in Buffalo.
‘I have some personal guilt around the whole thing,’ Rodgers said. ‘I’m pissed I wasn’t able to play [due to injury] and frustrated that, if I was out there, and I feel like I’d be playing well, there would be, obviously, different narratives around our team. And Zach would, again, have the opportunity to learn and grow and see what it looks like without the pressure on and to be able to sit in those meetings and go through the season and just watch me and my process.’
(From left to right) Pat McAfee, Aaron Rodgers, and former Green Bay Packers LB AJ Hawk
Zach Wilson has tossed seven interceptions while taking a whopping 38 sacks on the year
Instead of learning behind the four-time MVP, the 24-year-old Wilson has been pressed into action for the Jets, who are currently on the periphery of the AFC playoff picture.
But while Wilson has tossed seven interceptions while taking a whopping 38 sacks on the year (more than all by Washington’s Sam Howell), Rodgers insists the former BYU star is not to blame.
‘We need a spark,’ Rodgers acknowledged. ‘I feel for Zach. I love Zach. Zach’s such a great kid, and I do think he still has a bright future in the league. This has been a tough go for all of us. A lot of times in these situations, there’s a lot of guys they got to scapegoat. I think there’s enough blame to go around, a number of different positions.
‘This was obviously not the way any of us thought this was going to go down,’ Rodgers continued, speaking about the 2023 season. ‘It was gonna be me and my show, and Zach getting to learn and watch it first hand and not having the pressure to go out there and play. So obviously this is disappointing.’
Now, though, coach Robert Saleh is handing the reins over to Boyle, who previously backed up Rodgers in Green Bay.
Tim Boyle (pictured) now hopes he can spark the Jets’ offense after an impressive preseason
Pointing to Boyle’s strong preseason, Rodgers offered the career backup a vote of confidence while speaking with McAfee.
‘If you watched the way that Tim played in the preseason, it think you’d be pretty damn impressed with the way he commanded the offense, the throws that he made,’ Rodgers said.
More than anything, Rodgers stressed that the 2023 season is ‘definitely not over,’ and offered some encouragement to fans, who hope he can make an unprecedented return from his Achilles injury.
‘There’s a lot left to play for,’ he said. ‘I’m excited about where I’m at in my rehab. And things are progressing as quickly as I thought they would.’