With the AFC East becoming a rising division over the last few years, they've been a hot topic of conversation for media and fans alike. Since the Patriots have fallen down the totem pole as the dominating force, most could not wait to discuss the newest frontrunner to come out of the division, and this year's focus was on the New York Jets.
Although they are a team that hasn't seen much success in decades, the blockbuster trade for Aaron Rodgers this spring had many choosing the quarterback's new team to come out the victor. But it didn't stop there.
Not only were bets being placed for the Jets to win the division, they became a popular choice to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Yes, you read that right: the Super Bowl.
Despite the fact that they have been the definition of mediocre for more years than they were ever impressive, it was easy for people to jump on the bandwagon as soon as Rodgers arrived. In theory, it makes sense, given that he is a three-time league MVP and a one-time Super Bowl Champion. On top of that, he would obviously be an improvement over the quarterbacks they have had under center for most of the last ten years, putting them back on the map in the division.
But that's where things seem to get out of hand.
The belief that a single quarterback can take a historically unsuccessful team beyond where they have been in decades is a bold statement, especially when that quarterback is nearing 40 years old and displayed a decline in performance just one season ago.
Not many altered their declaration about Rodgers and the Jets before he suffered a season-ending injury. However, former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman recognized the absurdity and detailed why he still believed the longtime New England foe would finish last in the division.
"Something always bad goes wrong with the Jets, it’s unfortunate. It sucks that I’m the Patriot, the guy that had a lot of success, that beat the Jets a lot, but a lot of things happened to that team. … They had offensive line problems going into the season. … Aaron’s not a young spring chicken. … They’re talking Super Bowl already, and when we start doing those types of things, a lot of complacency can kick in. I wasn’t banking on Aaron Rodgers getting hurt by any means, but I think it’s a tough division. It’s unfortunate. "
It's nice to see someone speak candidly and realistically about the situation rather than buying into the hype simply because it was Aaron Rodgers. It doesn't negate the possibility that he could've been the leading force to dramatically alter the Jets' trajectory and make them a dominant team. But teams are not reliant on just one player, not even the quarterback.
Rodgers may be a talented quarterback and a future Hall of Famer, but as Edelman said, there's more to winning football games than putting all your eggs in a quarterback's basket, especially in a division that has only gotten stronger over the last five years.