There are many reasons why NFL Films and HBO cast the New York Jets as the year’s Hard Knocks team despite their initial opposition. Perhaps the biggest reason is that Aaron Rodgers will be quarterbacking the team for the foreseeable future after 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
Love him or hate him, Rodgers is a figure that receives a lot of attention for his antics both on and off the field. And even if you disagree with his handling of the COVID-19 vaccine or were up in arms over his darkness retreat, he still makes for an intriguing central figure. And that’s precisely what Hard Knocks was searching for.
Rodgers didn’t make his debut with the Jets in the team’s Hall of Fame game against the Cleveland Browns in Canton last Sunday, but he did moonlight as a play-caller. The 39-year-old Rodgers was given a headset and helped aid Zach Wilson through a couple of series.
A preview clip from the HBO/NFL Films series released Monday shows that off, featuring Wilson giving credit to Rodgers for his play-call of a 57-yard connection between the third-year quarterback and 27-year-old journeyman wide receiver Malik Taylor.
— NFL (@NFL) August 7, 2023
“Great call by Aaron Rodgers,” Wilson said with a smirk following the 21-16 loss to the Browns. “Had to give him a little shout out there.”
While you can hear some unknown voices on the sideline saying they were “ready for a bomb,” a cool and collected Rodgers sent a clear message to Wilson via the headset.
“Throw it up to Malik. Touchdown.”
From about his own 7-yard line, Wilson took a snap from under center, took a few step drop, and aired it down the sideline.
“Throw it to Malik.”
“Yeah, it’s going to Mailk.”
It went to Malik, as Wilson dropped a 57-yard pass into a bucket.
Rodgers immediately threw up his hands and yelled emphatically: “Yeahhh! Yeah, Malik! Yeah, baby!”
Taylor appeared in 25 games (one start) with the Packers from 2020-21. He’s hauled in seven receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown for his career. And it’s clear a preexisting relationship with Rodgers predates their time together in New York. Say what you want about Rodgers, but there’s a different energy about the future Hall of Famer, who was clearly pumped up for his teammate.
Rodgers would certainly make for an interesting TV personality after his playing career days are over, but maybe he has a future as an offensive play-caller.
Hard Knocks premieres on HBO and Max at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
[NFL on Twitter]