FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Tue New York JetsThe training facility is 224,000 square meters. quarterback Aaron RodgersIn the 108 days since his acclaimed arrival, his presence has been felt in every corner of the building.
The lockerroom. The weight room. The cafeteria. The classroom.
The most accomplished player on the team since Brett Favre in 2008, Rodgers has captivated the organization by being… well, himself. The novelty hasn’t waned, and everything the 39-year-old quarterback does — from reading defenses to reciting old-school hip-hop lyrics — makes an impression. Even the seemingly mundane moments are amplified and discussed among players.
“In the locker room we talk about it: it’s like watching Kobe [Bryant] or Michael Jordan work in football”, defensive tackle Solomon Thomas called. “The details he brings in, how he commands offense, it’s insane to watch him play.”
Here’s a photo album by Aaron Rodgers, if you will, of behind-the-scenes snaps from previous OTAs:
Rodgers likes things a certain way, and he believes part of his job with the Jets is making sure his teammates know The Away.
One day he explained Center Connor McGovern a pass protection adjustment that he likes to call out against a specific flash. It came with a demonstration.
Acting like an offensive lineman, Rodgers managed a pass set and executed the footwork for the play. According to McGovern, who was overwhelmed, his technique was impeccable.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback do the footwork of an offensive lineman,” McGovern said. “He knows exactly The Details – not just what we’re going to do, but how our tech should look. Perfect Steps. Wow, that’s crazy.”
Rodgers is not related to the same group of players in the cafeteria. Always on the move, he makes sure to sit with other teammates at every meal. It could be wide receivers at breakfast, rookies at lunch — that kind of rotation. Players have heard him turn down invitations, saying he needs to spend time with another group.
His goal is to build relationships.
“That’s huge, especially from one [future] Hall of fame guy, tight end Tyler Conklin called. “This is a big step for many people.”
linebacker Quincy Williams was working out in the weight room when he heard Rodgers talk about hip-hop.
“He’s like, ‘Play this, play that,'” Williams said, smiling. “I’m like, ‘How do you know that song?'”
Williams said it’s “surprising” that Rodgers knows so much about hip-hop.
“Yes, I am [a hip-hop fan] — albeit in the ’90s,” Rodgers said, mentioning Tupac Shakur, Warren G, Notorious BIG, Mase, and Snoop Dogg.
And the Chico, California native unsurprisingly said he prefers “the West Coast boys.”
On the first day of training camp, Rodgers barked signals as he saw a safety sneak up on the line of scrimmage for a potential blitz. He had fun calling security and daring him to come. So much for this defense cover-up.
It’s been a long time since the Jets had a quarterback with that kind of chutzpah. Coach Robert Saleh said he loves the way Rodgers “plays around with defense. … That makes me laugh. He’s a coach who can still play football.”
Defensive End Carl Lawson is a handyman when it comes to hustling the passer-by. He constantly studies the tape and looks for countermovements to his repertoire. He hatches a plan and takes it to the practice field to test, but this summer has been tough.
Because Rodgers passes the ball so quickly.
“Sometimes I can’t even get out of my stance,” Lawson said. “It’s like, ‘Whoosh! Has the play happened yet?’”
In his fourth MVP season in 2021, Rodgers averaged 2.63 seconds from snap to pass, the fourth-fastest release time in the league, according to data from ESPN Stats & Information.
With a defensive end John Franklin Myers Also, he found it frustrating at times facing Rodgers. The defense has to change their signals because he’s so quick to decipher them and call out the plays. One day, Rodgers was so good at predicting the stunts that Franklin-Myers had to ask him his secret.
Foot placement, Rodgers explained. He noticed the defensive linemen moving their feet before the snap.
“It keeps us honest,” Franklin-Myers said.
At Rodgers, the classroom is usually about business. He’s so intense that he sometimes calls his teammates and asks them to explain specific plays. Players have said it keeps them on their toes; They don’t want to disappoint their quarterback.
But sometimes learning can be fun.
Passing coordinator Todd Downing, with the help of instructional designer John Vieira, uses “Jeopardy!” style questions to test the quarterbacks on various aspects of offense. This is in Rodgers’ wheelhouse. He’s a “Jeopardy!” fan who was a guest host on the showwhat he calls the pinnacle of life. He also has won on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” In Downing’s classroom version of the quiz show, he uses images of Rodgers on the big screen.
“Some of these kids haven’t heard of ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’ seen. stuff,” Rodgers said, grinning. “We make references about [former host] Alex Trebek and Sean Connery [from “Saturday Night Live” spoofs of “Celebrity Jeopardy!”], and they don’t even have a clue who Sean Connery is. So it’s a great learning experience to get to know some pop culture for the young people.”
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 30, 2023
Rodgers is like a point guard in transition. If he sees a weakness in defense, he’ll adapt spontaneously and play a quick pass, sometimes without a look. He expects his receivers to see the game the way he does and be ready for the ball.
In a recent practice, Rodgers changed play at the line after noticing safety Ashtyn Davis Line up as a linebacker and create an eight-man box. Rodgers gave the audible signal using hand signals, made a quick drop, and fired a 7-yard banked flight at the wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr., who made a tackle and flew past the safety for a 79-yard touchdown.
“Aaron’s a tricky guy when it comes to certain things… tricky, he throws when you think he’s not throwing, especially when he’s not looking,” Hardman said.
The Jets do night walks. Players feel hot and tired after a long day, making it easy for their minds to wander. They’d rather be in an air-conditioned hotel room than an abandoned practice site.
This is the setting Rodgers is most focused on, according to players.
Nothing annoys him more than wasted reps on a walk-through, so he tries to keep everyone happy. Sometimes he deviates from the script by calling a play they did on OTAs two months ago, testing their attention and recall.
“The best players are the smartest players,” Rodgers said. “So whenever we’re on the field, whether it’s a half-line walk-through or a full 11-on-11 game, they should play with their brains on.”
Middle linebacker CJ Mosley is like Rodgers in that he values walkthroughs. “Best part of camp,” Mosley said. He likes them because the mental aspect of the game is very prominent and so they always become chess games. Rodgers runs the pre-snap checks for offense; Mosley makes them for defense.
One evening Mosley recognized the offensive formation and called for the move. Rodgers looked straight at him.
“What did you say?” asked an incredulous Rodgers from across the battle line.
Mosley thought he had passed the 19-year veteran – until Rodgers changed the game at the last second. Mosley marveled at Rodgers’ cleverness and thought to himself, “That’s where it’s different.”
Looking back, Mosley called that cat-and-mouse incident “one of the coolest things I’ve seen in training camp so far.”
Another seemingly mundane moment that seems bigger with Rodgers as quarterback.