Monday Night Football Calls Jets’ Trade Deadline Priorities Into Question

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When the New York Jets lost Aaron Rodgers, the season also seemed lost. Having a star quarterback is almost essential for modern NFL success, after all. Gang Green, however, didn’t wilt. Thanks to the club’s sturdy defense, Robert Saleh’s club entered Monday Night Football a game above .500. A win over the LA Chargers would have put them in a good position to attack the second half of the schedule.

But the Jets did not win. Instead, the offense turned in an all-around ugly performance and only mustered six points on the night.

That result drops the Jets to 4-4 and, more painfully, leaves them walking a postseason tightrope. And while it’s unreasonable to expect a run to the Super Bowl with Rodgers sidelined, that reality does shine a spotlight on how general manager Joe Douglas reportedly handled the trade deadline.

Zach Wilson of the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 6, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The quarterback struggled in a Monday Night Football loss to the Chargers.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

The Jets’ Offense Laid an Egg on MNF

While the cliche says that defense wins championships, scoring is still an essential part of NFL success. The Jets, it seems, missed that part of the memo.

Against the Chargers, Gang Green’s offense never got off the ground. Wilson threw for 263 yards without finding the end zone; he didn’t throw an interception, but he did lose two fumbles and absorbed eight sacks.

Breece Hall only mustered 50 yards on the ground, while Garrett Wilson, the team’s other offensive star, caught seven of 13 targets for 80 yards while losing a fumble.

The unit never found the end zone, and two field goals accounted for the total of New York’s scoring. To add insult to injury, the Chargers entered the game as the NFL’s worst passing defense.

And while it’s not completely fair to blame Wilson—he didn’t get much help from a patchwork offensive line—the QB didn’t exactly inspire much faith moving forward.

This isn’t a one-off, either. As noted by Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic, the Jets have only scored eight offensive touchdowns in eight weeks. When you zoom in, things look even worse; there have only been three offensive touchdowns in the last four outings.

Even when you factor in the loss of an elite quarterback, that’s incredibly bleak.

The MNF Loss Also Tanks the Jets’ Playoff Odds

As if a bad loss wasn’t painful enough, falling to the Chargers also dents the Jets’ postseason odds.

According to NY Times Upshot, Gang Green has a 16% chance of reaching the postseason after Monday Night Football. And while those sort of predictions are based on assuming the results of other games, Gang Green is walking something of a tightrope.

If they win every game they are “supposed to” win and only lose three games down the stretch (at Buffalo, home to Miami, and at Miami), the Jets have a 60% chance of reaching the playoffs. Even one additional loss, however, changes the picture.

An “L” to the reinvigorated Raiders, for example, brings NY’s playoff changes to around 6%. Falling to the Falcons instead? Thats drops the Jets’ postseason odds to 10%.

Even if you’re banking on Rodgers’ return to save the day, having that little wiggle room is less-than-ideal. This is the modern NFL; “any given Sunday” may be a cliche, but the league is no stranger to upset results.

Again, escaping the regular season, even as a wild card, would be a bonus rather than an expectation for a Rodgers-less Jets team. But, at the same time, it’s fair to question the club’s priorities ahead of the trade deadline.

Chasing Davante Adams Looks Like a Misjudgment

Given that the Jets were hanging tough in a difficult situation ahead of the NFL trade deadline, it would have been reasonable if Douglas got some additional help. Those deals, however, didn’t materialize.

And if we take the reporting as accurate, New York did pursue some big-name receivers. ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned a pursuit of Davante Adams; NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport suggested there was interest in Adams, Mike Evans, and Tee Higgins.

There’s logic there—if Gang Green’s offense is the weak link, a receiver would boost the unit’s profile—it seems incongruous with what we’re seeing on the field. With a quarterback who’s struggling and a porous offensive line, having a new pass-catcher isn’t a top priority.

To that end, perhaps Douglas could have chased some smaller, more immediately necessary targets. Maybe there was a cheap offensive lineman out there who could have minimized the bleeding up front. Or maybe there was a better quarterback option available to replace Wilson.

The Jets have steadfastly stood behind the current signal-caller, but seeing Joshua Dobbs lead the Vikings to victory with virtually no preparation does suggest that there were alternatives out there.

Would securing a big-time receiver have been exciting and made the club better when Rodgers returns, whenever that may be? Sure, but that pursuit shouldn’t have come at the expense of a short-term fix. Again, there’s a big difference between going out to trade for a franchise quarterback and picking up a short-term replacement for a seventh-round pick.

And while no one is under any illusions about the Jets’ Super Bowl chances without Rodgers, reaching the postseason without the star quarterback would still be a success for Gang Green. That’s still possible, but now the club is on shaky ground for the rest of the season.

Perhaps a different approach at the trade deadline would have made things easier.