FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Long-distance lovefest: Aaron Rodgers is home in Malibu, California, recovering from Achilles surgery on his left foot, but he's still making an impact at One Jets Drive. Thanks to the wonders of technology, he can "attend" quarterback meetings via FaceTime.
"Aaron's his own unique person, but what's been really neat is that it's a brotherhood and we wouldn't have it any other way than to FaceTime Aaron in there and to make sure that everybody's involved," said passing-game coordinator Todd Downing, who runs the quarterback room.
Downing said the conversations with Rodgers aren't deep dives into game strategy. As he said, "It's more like, 'We miss our brother and want him to be a part of the meeting.'" Rodgers made it sound like they do more than exchange pleasantries, telling The "Pat McAfee Show" he talked with the staff and some players about what to expect from the New England Patriots’ defense Sunday at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Several players said Rodgers has reached out to them individually, either with a text or a FaceTime. It's really a continuation of what he started in the spring, checking in on various players and position groups as part of his team-building philosophy. Now he does it from 2,800 miles away, perhaps soothing his own hurt as he embarks on months of grueling rehab.
It's clear from talking to players they miss Rodgers' leadership in the locker room. The coaches do, too. Before the injury, safeties coach Marquand Manuel, who played with Rodgers on the 2006 Green Bay Packers, thanked his old teammate every day for coming to the Jets and changing the culture. In some ways, he still feels his presence.
"I wouldn't say he's not here," said Manuel, noting that Rodgers' commitment to the offseason program -- something he hadn't done in recent years -- still is paying dividends. "The fact that he put in and he poured in to everybody ... that helped us all. We still have that same creed. We still work with that every single day."
Manuel said Rodgers has brought a "positive spirit" to a team "that hasn't had it in a while." Rodgers might not have to use FaceTime that much longer. The Jets are hoping he can return to the facility in the coming days.
2. Last chance? Rodgers' pet project, quarterback Zach Wilson, will be in the spotlight Sunday. Talk about confronting your worst nightmare: Wilson is 0-4 against the Patriots, with seven interceptions and only two touchdown drives in 38 possessions.
In the first meeting last season, Wilson threw three interceptions ("Just dumb plays by me," Wilson said) and followed up with a 77-yard passing day in Foxborough, which led to his benching. Another factor was his postgame news conference, in which he chafed teammates by refusing to take accountability.
Wilson needs to have a good start or the home crowd could turn on him, as it did last season at times. Wilson said his No. 1 priority isn't to please the paying customers.
"I think it is more important to prove to the guys in the locker room that I can lead, I can be efficient, I can get the ball to our playmakers and let those guys do what they're there to do," he said. Rodgers, who talks to Wilson every day, said he told him to play “free and confident.”
3. Game of risk: General manager Joe Douglas hasn't added an insurance quarterback in the wake of the Rodgers injury. They reportedly tried to sign Chad Henne, who played under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he opted to stay retired. It's always risky when there's only two quarterbacks in the building (Wilson and Tim Boyle). Wide receiver Randall Cobb is the emergency QB.
4. Unlucky 14: Coach Robert Saleh believes the Jets have made inroads in the AFC East during his tenure -- "We have a damn good football team" -- but they might not be taken seriously until they beat the Patriots. Saleh is 0-4 against Bill Belichick, bringing the Jets' losing streak to 14 straight.
Aside from wide receiver Garrett Wilson saying in a radio interview that the streak is "unacceptable" and "it's time that things change around here," the players appeared to fall in line with Saleh's "just another game" mantra as they prepared for Sunday. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, 0-8 against New England, said, "This is a new team, new staff, new mindset, new everything."
Losing streak, what losing streak?
"Naturally, we all have a mentality that, 'Yeah, that for sure has to change,' but in the grand scheme of things, you can't treat it any different," defensive end John Franklin-Myers told ESPN. "That's what I'm getting at, but, yeah, there's a [feeling] that, 'Enough is enough.' That's kind of what we've all been thinking, but you don't want to make any game bigger than what it really is."
5. Read and weep: An eye-opening breakdown of The Streak:
It has spanned three coaches: Todd Bowles (0-6), Adam Gase (0-4) and Saleh
The Jets have led only 108 minutes out of a possible 840 over the 14 games. Average margin of defeat: 18 points.
6. Roughed up: This is one of those trends that makes you shake your head and ask, "How is this possible?"
The Jets, burned by some costly roughing the passer penalties in recent years (see: last week), have gone 22 straight games without the opponent being flagged for roughing the passer, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. It's the longest streak in the league. The last time it happened was Dec. 19, 2021, when Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel roughed Zach Wilson.
Over that same 22-game span, the Jets have been penalized eight times for roughing, tied for the league lead.
"It's hard, but that's the world we live in," said Franklin-Myers, who used words such as "impossible" and "ironic" to describe the discrepancy.
Franklin-Myers was flagged last Sunday for his hit on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott -- a highly questionable call in the moment. Days later, the league admitted to the Jets that it was a bad call, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich confirmed. Franklin-Myers had another one last Oct. 30 against the Patriots, which nullified a pick-six by Michael Carter II -- a key moment in the game.
Saleh believes roughing penalties should be reviewable. And while we're on the subject, the New York Giants' opponents have been flagged only once in the last 23 games for roughing the passer -- another reason why playing quarterback in New York is tough.
7. Wanted: Better blocking: Look for Jeremy Ruckert to get more playing time. Praised for his blocking in Week 1, the second-year tight end was limited to only five offensive snaps against the Cowboys. It raised some eyebrows, considering the offense could've used some punch in the running game. Saleh acknowledged that Ruckert "needs to get on the field a little bit more."
8. Invisible WR: One of the early surprises is Mecole Hardman's playing time -- only 12 offensive snaps, including 11 in garbage time against Dallas. The coaches said there haven't been enough plays to get everyone involved. Hardman's game-breaking speed, which helped the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl, could certainly provide a different dimension on offense.
9. Where are they now? Colorado's Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders is the talk of college football. You might be interested to know that two coaches on his staff have Jets ties -- former defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman (director of quality control for the defense) and former linebacker Trevor Reilly (quality control for special teams).
10. The last word: "You never forget something like that, you really don’t. ... If it doesn’t [motivate you], then something is wrong with you." -- special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, recalling Marcus Jones' walk-off punt return in last season's 10-3 loss to the Patriots