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Jets dysfunction timeline: How New York became ‘such a f—ing mess’ after Aaron Rodgers injury | Sporting News

On the surface, the Jets’ disappointing 2023 season seems pretty straightforward. The team lost its star quarterback four plays into the year, and it’s hard to win in the NFL without a high-end quarterback.

Behind the scenes, though, there was a bit more at play. A report from The Athletic’s Dianna Russini on Wednesday detailed how the Jets’ season spiraled despite boasting one of the league’s most talented defenses. And it doesn’t paint a promising picture.

As the season progressed and losses piled up, Jets coach Robert Saleh is reported to have been increasingly paranoid about his own job security. Saleh “wondered aloud” if he would end up like former Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who built strong defenses in Denver but never had stable quarterback play and only lasted three seasons.

Saleh went as far as to research the records of some of the NFL’s most prominent coaches without their starting quarterback, finding that only Mike Tomlin had a winning record under those circumstances.

The third-year coach “wished [Jets owner Woody] Johnson or Rodgers would publicly endorse him” late in the season as he worried about his future, a wish that would be granted when Johnson publicly backed Saleh’s return before Week 16.

MORE: Zach Wilson’s mom sheds light on Jets’ handling of QB’s concussion

Before that, though, Saleh went “into a tailspin” after Rodgers publicly called out the organization for multiple leaks to the media, including one that alleged Zach Wilson didn’t want to reclaim his starting role late in the season, The Athletic reported. Saleh demanded that the leaker come forward in a meeting with his staff, even “threatening to take their cellphones,” per The Athletic.

Saleh’s defense was largely successful in 2023, but the Jets’ offense ranked among the worst in the league. The report offers more insight on offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s role in the unit’s struggles.

“Multiple coaches and players described Hackett as lacking in attention to detail,” according to the report, and Hackett waited until the very end of each week to meet with the Jets’ full offensive staff. Hackett is described as having resisted in-game adjustments, including a refusal to change the team’s blocking approach when Micah Parsons dominated the Jets’ offensive line in Week 2.

While Hackett is set to return in 2024, the Jets are said to be considering adding another offensive coach who would effectively reduce Hackett’s role.

Perhaps Rodgers’ return results in more wins, and more wins result in less paranoia within the Jets’ facility. For now, though, New York appears to be betting that Rodgers simply covers up many of the issues that plagued the team in 2023.

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