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New York Jets 2023 NFL Season Preview: Is Rodgers Still MVP Material?

New York Jets Aaron Rodgers
Jul 22, 2023; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) participates in drills during the New York Jets Training Camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As teams head to training camp and the NFL season approaches, The 33rd Team asks its experts to preview every team's outlook for the 2023 season. In this installment, Eric Mangini takes a deep dive into the New York Jets

>> READ: Jets Fantasy Football Preview

Jets Team Preview

What To Know: Offense

The biggest storyline is obviously Aaron Rodgers. Can Rodgers return to the MVP level he had just two seasons ago? He's a season removed from being a back-to-back MVP. And can he achieve at that same level in New York?

There are a lot of things working in his favor. They're going to run the offense that he knows. He's with an offensive coordinator whom he has a relationship with, Nathaniel Hackett. He's got receivers and offensive players who know the system and can help push the offense forward, which are all huge positives. And he's also been able to spend the entire offseason there.

So, how quickly can he get the offense up to speed in terms of how he wants to operate? That can be a real challenge for him because he likes to do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage. So guys who aren't familiar with the system have to be able to operate at that level.

But at the end of the day, is this Rodgers we saw last year in Green Bay or the Rodgers we saw the previous two seasons? If it's the MVP version, it's an amazing situation for New York.

What To Know: Defense

Can they improve from last season or at least stay the same? What the Jets' defense accomplished last year was pretty amazing.

They slashed their points per game by 11, which is one of the biggest improvements in the past 45 years. They went from dead last in points allowed to fourth in points allowed and returned nine starters. So they should be in a great position to be at least at the level that they were, which is impressive. But history tells us that usually there's regression after a big jump like that.

The question is, are they even the best defense in the division? New England is really talented. Buffalo also is really talented, and Miami has a different and really effective scheme. So not only can the Jets be as good as they were last year, but can they be the best team in their own division?

Biggest Off-Field Storyline

Off the field, it has got to be how a team that hasn't made the playoffs in 12 seasons and finished dead last in the division last year deals with expectations. Dealing with success is a skill set, just like dealing with adversity.

Dealing with expectations is also something that has to be learned: it has to be learned by a team and has to be learned by players. In New York, those expectations come with a bullhorn. You can't hide from them. They're going to build and build. So the question is now, with "Hard Knocks" even adding more fuel to the fire, what happens when they hit their first block of adversity, their first two-game losing streak, their first challenging loss and any of those things that happen during the normal course of the season?

This is a team that hasn't had a lot of success, and now they're thrust into this position where everybody thinks that they're going to be vying for the Super Bowl. What if they hit a patch of turbulence, how does the team respond?

New York Jets Michael Carter Breece Hall
Michael Carter, left, and Breece Hall

Breakout Player Prediction

This a player that I liked coming out of college. Running back Michael Carter averaged 4.3 yards a carry as a rookie in 2021, and that went back a little bit to 3.5 last year. He averaged 9 yards per reception in his rookie season but that fell to 7 last year.

Carter is a different player than Breece Hall. He's a complementary player, and he's someone who's going to be able to take advantage of the seven-man boxes that New York is going to see a lot more of on offense because of Rodgers in the passing game.

Move Jets Could Make

One of the areas where the Jets could continue to look to improve is at quarterback. That may seem inconsistent with where things are right now because they obviously added Rodgers, and they've got a high draft pick in Zach Wilson. But unless Wilson has made tremendous strides from where he was last year, they're an injury away from being in the same situation they faced all last season.

So they're going to have to evaluate Wilson's progress not only as a player but his progress in the system. Behind Wilson, the only guy that they have with experience is Tim Boyle, who played a little bit in Green Bay. But he's only had three starts and was 0-3. He had a 54 quarterback rating, and he threw three touchdowns and eight interceptions. So hopefully for New York, Rodgers won't get hurt. Even more hopeful is that Wilson has made tremendous strides from where he was. But should they get into that situation, it could get pretty bleak for New York pretty quickly.

2023 Season Expectations

The season expectations: to be Super Bowl contenders. You've got a quarterback who's a year removed from back-to-back MVP seasons, who has coaches that he knows, has a system that he knows, has a coordinator that he knows, has players that he knows and he's been able to spend the offseason there.

The Jets have a defense that moved up to the fourth-best in terms of points allowed and have nine starters coming back. Their running game is encouraging. They played in a lot of games last year that were close but weren't able to come out on top.

The Jets are in a situation where they're not just chasing the division, they're chasing much deeper. And that's the expectation from the fans, that's the expectation from New York and that's the expectation from the owner. The best possible outcome for the Jets this season is to win the division and go deep in the playoffs.

The reality is, if it's anything besides that, there's going to be a new coaching staff the following year. So unless New York has a dramatic improvement from where it was last year and is knocking on the door of the Super Bowl, there's going to be some significant changes to the current staff.

Other Previews

NFC East: DAL | NYG  | PHI | WAS

NFC North: GB | CHI | MIN | DET

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE

AFC North: PIT | CLE | BAL | CIN

AFC West: KC | LAC | LV | DEN

NFC West: SF | SEA | LAR | ARI

NFC South: TB | CAR | NO | ATL 

AFC South: JAX | TEN | HOU | IND  

Eric Mangini is a former NFL Head Coach and won three Super Bowls as the defensive backs coach of the New England Patriots. In 2006, he became the then-youngest head coach in the NFL with the New York Jets.