If we’re being honest, there isn’t a lot left for the Jets to play for right now in a 4-10 season.
There, too, is not a lot left to keep disappointed and checked-out Jets fans interested as Sunday’s home finale mercifully arrives with a game against the Packers.
The Jets are out of playoff contention for the eighth consecutive season. Their head coach, Todd Bowles, is almost certain to be fired the day after the season ends. With 5-8-1 Green Bay equally as disappointing as the Jets, there isn’t even an opportunity to play a spoiler role.
There is one element to this game, however, that adds at least a little dose of juice to it: Aaron Rodgers.
The Green Bay quarterback, who’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Fame entrant, makes this game at least marginally interesting — to the Jets players playing against him and to the fans who choose to watch instead of decorating their Christmas trees or doing some last-minute holiday shopping.
Rodgers enters the game having thrown 23 touchdown passes to just two interceptions with 3,974 passing yards and a 97.2 rating, and every Jets defensive player wants to measure himself against him. Every one of them wants a piece of Rodgers — an interception, a sack, a tipped pass, a tackle.
“I’m a competitor, man, of course I’m excited,’’ Jets safety Jamal Adams said Thursday. “He’s a hell of a quarterback. I’m a big fan of Aaron Rodgers. I’m excited to face him and talk some noise with him. You can tell he’s a hell of a competitor. He knows he’s the best. Man, I love competing against the best.’’
Asked what sets Rodgers apart, Adams said, “His flick of the wrist.
“There’s no weakness to Aaron Rodgers,’’ Adams said. “We’ve got to bring our A game, because that guy can tear a defense apart by himself.’’
Adams has heard the talk about Rodgers possibly not playing Sunday because of a groin injury he sustained last weekend, and Adams doesn’t believed it for a second.
“Man, I guarantee that No. 12, ‘A-Rod,’ whatever you want to call him, he will be there,’’ Adams said. “He will be at MetLife. He’s coming to play. Man, that guy, he can sit back in the pocket with no legs and have one shoulder and throw the ball. He’s amazing.’’
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Adams has 3.5 sacks and one interception this season and would love to add to that Sunday with a souvenir from Rodgers.
“I would definitely put that in the trophy case,’’ he said.
“As a defensive player, you always love going against the best of the best — dudes like Rodgers and [Tom] Brady — you always cherish that chance,’’ said defensive end Henry Anderson, who has six sacks this season and is coming off a three-sack performance against the Texans.
“If you’re out there playing against a guy like Aaron Rodgers, everybody’s watching, so it’s an opportunity for you to make a name for yourself,’’ linebacker Brandon Copeland said. “You’re not going to get a chance to face a talent like that very often.’’
Copeland faced Rodgers when he played for the NFC North-rival Lions in 2015 and 2016, so he has some familiarity with what makes him great.
“He’s a conductor and he has his orchestra and he’s putting pieces in play,’’ Copeland said of Rodgers’ remarkable control of the Packers’ offense .
“There are few quarterbacks in this world who, when they release the ball, it’s not often that it’s a bad decision,’’ Copeland said. “You know as a pass rusher, whenever he releases the ball there’s probably somebody open or somebody who he’s throwing open.’’
Throwing the ball “off schedule’’ has become a popular new phrase for people when speaking about quarterbacks’ ability to improvise, throwing on the run when the pocket collapses. It’s a gift Jets rookie Sam Darnold has. Rodgers didn’t invent it — former Vikings and Giants great Fran Tarkenton probably did — but Rodgers has been the best in the modern era to perfect it.
When Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers was asked if there is a “blueprint’’ to stopping Rodgers, he joked, “Can you play with 13 or 14 [defenders]?’’
The Jets will play with 11 on defense Sunday, and every one of them is relishing the opportunity to go against Rodgers.
Bowles was asked if, like his players, he relishes the opportunity to face one of the best of all time like Rogers.
“No, not at all,’’ he said through a hearty laugh. “You never look forward to going against the great ones.’’
Bowles’ message essentially was this: Be careful what you wish for.