From Tragedy to Triumph

by Brendan Maguire ’25 on November 10, 2023


The New York Jets went from losing their veteran quarterback to knocking off the last undefeated team in the NFL. The Jets sit third in the tightly contested AFC East division with a record of 3–3. This team has been quite the spectacle through six weeks—starting pre-season in the spotlight on Hard Knocks, having the disastrous injury of Aaron Rodgers, and internal conflicts with the team. The Jets’ morale, from Hard Knocks, seemed to be in good spirits going into the season between players and coaches. However, there was a flare-up on the sidelines in week three with Michael Carter yelling at Taylor Embree, the running back coach. After the tantrum in the fourth quarter, the Jets lost to the New England Patriots, a team that has been an absolute failure this year. Although there have been many obstacles hindering the Jets from the Cinderella story they sought to have this year, I wouldn’t close the book just yet.

​The backbone of the Jets team, keeping them in the tightly contested games, is its ferocious defense. The defense has forced five fumbles and eight interceptions through six weeks against some top-caliber teams. C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, linebackers for the team, are statistically top five in the NFL. Williams is having an All-Pro season thus far with the title of most defensive stops in coverage this season at 15. With this being said, the Jets’ defense did have rough bumps in the road, losing to the Cowboys by a 20-point margin and allowing the impoverished Patriots to get a win. However, after starting down 17–0 against the Chiefs, the Jets rallied to barely lose the game 23–20. In this game, the team showed the nation there is nothing but heart in the Meadowlands when all hope seems lost. In this instance against the reigning Super Bowl Champs, their courageous efforts were not enough to overcome the phantom calls from the officiating crew. There may have been a couple of “Swifties” in black and white that night, but that is another story. Sauce Gardner, a top cornerback in the NFL, is quite active on Twitter and tweeted after the game, “…maybe if I was a swiftie, the ref wouldn’t have thrown the flag.” Gardner deleted this tweet shortly after, but the infuriation from players and fans still lingered. Several storylines and questions about the season emerged from this game leaving Jets fans wondering: is Zach Wilson capable of going toe-to-toe with other NFL quarterbacks and coming out victorious?

​ Wilson showed glimpses of his BYU years in the game against the Chiefs—a confident gun-slinger showing poise and awareness in the pocket. He finished the game with a 105.2 passer rating–a considerable improvement from 38.1 and 61.9 against the last two opponents before this showing. Moving on from this game, Wilson led the team to a 31–21 win in Broncos Country with a 73.1 percent pass completion rate and 199 yards. This game was not the best for Wilson, but all the Jets need is for him to control his errors, and the team will prevail. On Oct. 15, Gang Green welcomed the Eagles over the border to East Rutherford, NJ. The Eagles were runner-up in the Super Bowl last season and still hold the star talent that got them there. For this contest, the Eagles defense was hurting a little—CB Darius Slay, DE Jalen Carter, and S Justin Reed were all sidelined. With this being said, the Jets did not have a single starting cornerback available, as Gardner, D.J. Reed, Justin Hardee, and Brandin Echols were all listed as out. After reading the injury report for both teams, the playing field is set, even, and very bruised. The Jets’ defense capitalized on a sloppy game from Jalen Hurts, who threw three interceptions to the stout defense. The Jets made their voice heard around the league handing the last undefeated team their first loss. 

Although Wilson had another mediocre showing at QB, he limited his mistakes and kept the Jets in this game. Aaron Rodgers coming to the franchise held a lot of on-field significance, but what the Jets needed at the helm, first and foremost, was a leader. Someone who could bring the team from darkness to light and guide them in overcoming adversity. Wilson did not show any shades of these qualities in his first season in NY, not in the slightest. Rodgers acting as a mentor figure for Wilson could be the best thing for his career. In the post-game press conference, Wilson emphatically stated, “Everyone was fighting across the board…there’s no quit in this team.” The Jets are on bye in week seven and return to the G-Men, who just closed out a tight game against the Commanders. The Jets have goals to advance to the playoffs, with the potential possibility of Rodgers being healthy for the first time since 2010. Will the Jets come out on top in the Battle of the Meadowlands with a winning record and playoff hopes?