New York Jets fans might have had a sense of déjà vu while watching Aaron Rodgers rupture his Achilles on just his fourth snap with the team.
That’s because the last time the Jets had preseason expectations as high as they were this year, their star quarterback at the time also was lost for the season in the team’s very first game of the year.
Vinny Testaverde and the Jets were among the small list of Super Bowl contenders in the 1999 season as they were just months off a trip to the AFC Championship.
But in their first game of that season, Testaverde, just like Rodgers, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. The team finished 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs.
Now, New York is in a similar situation – practically all Super Bowl hopes have gone by the wayside as Zach Wilson figures to be the starting quarterback for the rest of the year. The 2021 No. 2 overall pick has struggled immensely since getting drafted, which is why the Jets got the four-time MVP in the first place.
However, after turning the somber night into a thrilling victory on Monday night against the Buffalo Bills, Testaverde says Wilson can do damage.
“I’m still excited about this football team,” Testaverde told ESPN New York radio. “I thought it was amazing how they came back and won that game after losing their star quarterback and all the high expectations.
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“I watched Zach perform in the preseason, I was out at training camp one day to watch them practice. I liked what he did, I liked a lot of the things he did in the game against the Bills on Monday night. If the defense can hold this team together, being as great as they are, give Zach a few more weeks to get more comfortable with the starters and the offense, I think this team’s going to go a long way, and they’re going to shock a lot of people despite the injury to Aaron Rodgers.”
Testaverde said he’s seen Wilson grow over the last couple of years and thinks Wilson has confidence that he didn’t have a season ago.
“Maybe it’s because he’s been around Aaron Rodgers for training camp, and he got to learn from one of the best that’s ever played the game, he’s starting to understand and anticipate where to go with the football,” Testaverde said. “He looked like he was in command of the huddle with the team, and that’s important. The other players see that, they gain some confidence as well, so that’s going to go a long way. And that’s why I say I think they’ll have a good shot.”
“Will they win the division? I’m not sure … but I certainly think they can get into the playoffs, and once you get there, there’s no telling who’s going to win the Super Bowl.”
Testaverde said he was in owner Woody Johnson’s suite when Rodgers got injured, providing an awkward moment.
“We didn’t really speak. We were too in shock to really have a conversation about it,” he said.
New York heads to Dallas for Week 2 as 9.5-point underdogs. Bettors could have found three-point spreads in favor of the Cowboys before Rodgers’ injury.
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