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How NY Jets can go far following the 2023 Chiefs template

Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, NFL, NY Jets
Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, NFL, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets can follow in the Chiefs’ footsteps en route to a Super Bowl

Nineteenth in yards per attempt. Fourth-most interceptions. Fourteenth in passer rating. Twentieth in big-time throw rate. Sixteenth in turnover-worthy play rate. Thirty-third in average depth of target.

You’d think that these statistics describe a mediocre quarterback, right?

Wrong. Those are Patrick Mahomes’ ranks among 35 qualified quarterbacks with at least 225 dropbacks in 2023.

And yet, all of that is forgotten because the 2023 Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. Mahomes is still crowned as the best quarterback in the NFL. No one even remembers the questions that surrounded the Chiefs as they stumbled to an 11-6 record.

For all the talk that elite quarterback play is necessary to win a Super Bowl in today’s NFL, the Chiefs did so with largely average play. Even in the playoffs, Mahomes threw six touchdowns in four games with 7.1 yards per attempt, and his best attribute was hanging on to the football.

The Chiefs of previous seasons likely could not have won a Super Bowl with this iteration of Mahomes. Their defense was not good enough to carry them without elite quarterback play. In 2023, though, Kansas City’s defense ranked seventh in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, an efficiency metric adjusted by game context and opponent), including fifth against the pass.

That brings us to the New York Jets and Aaron Rodgers. The widespread expectation is that for the Jets to win a Super Bowl, Rodgers will need to reprise his 2020-21 MVP form. If the Jets’ defense can play its part, that may not be the case.

Compare Rodgers’ 2022 numbers, broken thumb and all, with Mahomes’ 2023 marks.

Rodgers 2022 (33 qualifiers)Mahomes 2023 (35 qualifiers)
Completion percentage64.6% (20th)67.2% (8th)
Adjusted completion percentage75.8% (14th)78.3% (T-4th)
Yards per attempt6.8 (23rd)7.0 (19th)
TD:INT ratio26:1227:14
Big-time throw rate5.7% (2nd)4% (20th)
Turnover-worthy play rate2.9% (T-14th)2.9% (T-16th)
Average depth of target8.5 (13th)6.8 (33rd)
Drop rate7.9% (28th)6.7% (T-20th)
Passer rating91.1 (T-15th)92.6 (14th)
Adjusted net yards per attempt5.95 (20th)6.26 (15th)

Even if Rodgers plays at the level that he did in 2022, he’s not far off from Mahomes’ 2023 season. Yes, Mahomes’ numbers were better in the playoffs, but he slogged through the regular season. If Rodgers can just be mediocre, the Jets still have a shot.

And there’s reason to believe Rodgers can be a lot better. Consider that before he broke his thumb at the end of Week 5 in 2022, Rodgers ranked fifth out of 32 qualified passers in completion percentage, 19th in yards per attempt, 5th in turnover-worthy pay rate, fifth in average time to throw, and 10th in passer rating, all while posting an 8:3 TD:INT ratio. While those are not MVP-level numbers, they were enough to entrench him as a top-10 passer — with Allen Lazard as his No. 1 receiver.

The Jets’ defense has been starving for average quarterback play. They’ve won seven games in back-to-back seasons with the worst passing in the NFL. Meanwhile, they’ve finished sixth and third in defensive DVOA, losing game after game where their offense simply couldn’t get going. In 2022, they lost four games in which their defense allowed 10 or fewer points.

This is not to say the Jets will win the Super Bowl if Rodgers plays like an average quarterback. They probably won’t. But it does say that if their defense can hold its own, Rodgers does not need to be the league MVP for the Jets to make a deep run and even win it all.

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