To the delight of NFL fans everywhere, Hard Knocks returns for another season tonight on HBO. The team being followed this year is the New York Jets. While the Jets have been among the most inept teams in the league in recent years, the team traded for future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers. In addition, the team has a bunch of young talent. The Jets took home both the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. Now, fans will be tuning in to either watch the team soar to new heights, or to see if this experiment crashes and burns.
The biggest question the Jets will have, and fans will get their first look at, is whether or not Aaron Rodgers can lead this team back to the playoffs. The Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010. This is the longest active streak of missing the playoffs not just in football, but in all 4 of the major sports in America. Rodgers is coming from a team that historically has done well putting competent pieces around him, and the AFC is substantially better than the NFC. Rodgers is going to have his work cut out for him.
It’s also important to see whether or not the young stars on the Jets continue to develop in their 2nd year in the league. Running back Breece Hall (before his season ending ACL injury), wideout Garrett Wilson, and cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner are among the biggest reasons Jets fans have reason to be optimistic, aside from the new QB. The Jets haven’t had young talent like this in a long time.
Lastly, can Robert Saleh coach? Going from 4 wins to 7 wins and arguably the best defense in the league is no small feat, but now in his 3rd season, the pressure is on. We’ve seen rookie head coaches make the playoffs and even win playoff games in recent years, including the crosstown rival of the Jets. It’s unlikely Saleh will remain the head coach next year if the team once again fails to make the playoffs, so the pressure will also be on him to ensure the team gets off to a fast start and breaks their playoff drought.
However, for now, we can all sit back and r-e-l-a-x, as Rodgers ever so famously put it recently. Arguably the best football docuseries is back, and we can’t wait to see it!