Jets’ loss of Aaron Rodgers is reminiscent of other QB injuries for Super Bowl contenders
Longtime New York Jets fans are all too familiar with the pain that comes from having a promising season derailed as soon as it started by a quarterback injury.
Twenty-four years to the day from when Vinny Testaverde’s ruptured Achilles tendon in the season opener ruined the 1999 season for the Jets, the team announced Tuesday that Aaron Rodgers suffered the same season-ending injury just four plays into his debut with the team.
Now the more than half-century wait to create another championship moment like the one Joe Namath created in Super Bowl III might be on hold.
The Jets’ odds to win the Super Bowl have plummeted from 18-1 before the start of the season to 65-1 after Rodgers’ injury, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
There are examples of teams overcoming an early season injury to a starting quarterback and having great success. The 1999 Rams, coming off a 4-12 season, lost starter Trent Green in the preseason only to go on a shocking Super Bowl run under unknown Kurt Warner, who became a two-time NFL MVP.
Two years later, a Patriots team coming off a 5-11 season started 0-2 and then lost star QB Drew Bledsoe to an injury in a loss to the Jets. That opened the door for former sixth-round pick Tom Brady to take over and help launch a dynasty in New England.
Those teams came into the season with low expectations compared to the Jets. Others who hoped to contend like New York did this year had less success after the injuries. Here’s a look at some of them:
Philadelphia had used one of the most dominating defenses and the playmaking ability of Randall Cunningham to earn three straight playoff berths from 1988-90. The Eagles hoped to finally break through and have postseason success in 1991.
Cunningham went down with a torn ACL in his knee after throwing just four passes in the season opener. Philadelphia went through five QBs in the first eight games, starting 3-5 with Jim McMahon, Brad Goebel, Pat Ryan and Jeff Kemp also playing.
A healthy McMahon then led the Eagles to six straight wins but it wasn’t enough as they finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs.
Miami had gone to the AFC title game in 1992 and were off to a 4-1 start the following season when Dan Marino went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.
Scott Mitchell and Steve DeBerg took over from there and Miami was in contention with a 9-2 record before losing the final five games and missing the postseason.
The Jets came into the 1999 season with high hopes after making it to the AFC title game the previous season behind a career revival from Testaverde under coach Bill Parcells.
The good feeling lasted less than a half as Testaverde tore his Achilles tendon in the season-opener against New England. Rick Mirer took over and lost four of his first five starts before New York turned the team over to former undrafted free agent Ray Lucas.
The Jets went 6-3 under Lucas but were in too deep a hole and missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
Michael Vick was the hot young QB in the NFL after leading the Falcons to a playoff win at Green Bay in his second season in 2002.
Atlanta looked to build on that success the following season only to lose Vick to a broken leg in a preseason game. The Falcons started 2-10 behind Doug Johnson and Kurt Kittner before Vick returned.
He won three of four starts to end the season but it wasn’t nearly enough to save Atlanta’s season or coach Dan Reeves’ job.
Fresh off a 16-0 season that ended with a Super Bowl loss, the Patriots were dealt another blow in the 2008 opener.
Brady tore his ACL on a hit in the first quarter by Bernard Pollard that led to a rule change prohibiting low hits on QBs. But that came too late to help New England.
Thanks to a strong roster and the coaching of Bill Belichick, the Patriots still managed to go 11-5 behind Matt Cassel but that wasn’t enough to make it to the postseason.
2015 and 2020 Cowboys
The Cowboys have had two seasons spoiled by early quarterback injuries the past decade, with Tony Romo’s broken collarbone derailing the 2015 season and Dak Prescott’s broken leg doing the same in 2020.
Dallas started 2-0 behind Romo in 2015 but then lost seven straight games while he was sidelined. He returned to win one game before getting hurt again in a Thanksgiving loss to Carolina. The Cowboys finished 4-12.
Prescott got injured in Week 5 of the 2020 season, costing Dallas the chance to win a weak NFC East. The Cowboys lost their first four games without Prescott to fall to 2-7 that season and finished 6-10.
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