Every time New York Jets fans begin to accept reality about a certain quarterback's return, Aaron Rodgers keeps pulling them back.
Rodgers, the Jets' blockbuster offseason acquisition, tore his Achilles during the fourth play of his first game with the new team. With six games remaining in the Jets' regular season, he's ensuring that his unlikely return remains top of mind.
Making one of his many regular "The Pat McAfee Show" appearances on Tuesday, Rodgers emphasized that he's still not ready to see in-game action or even begin to make a decision. But he said his potential comeback will hinge on two factors: his health and the Jets' playoff odds.
"It's always been, first, am I healthy? Then, are we alive? Are we in it? Are we playing good enough to make a run? Can I step in and protect myself and play at the level that I'm capable of playing?" he told McAfee. "But it's health first and are we alive for the playoffs, second."
Admittedly, the four-time MVP has come a long way since September. A day after the injury, Rodgers' season was reportedly over. Then, he lauded the success of his Achilles surgery, which "went great." A month later, the 39-year-old told McAfee he was "way ahead of schedule," as he teased a return without providing a timeline.
On Nov. 15, Jets head coach Robert Saleh didn't rule out the possibility of Rodgers reclaiming the QB1 title this year.
"Aaron's a grown man," Saleh said. "No one is going to know Aaron's body like Aaron knows his body. If he feels after the doctors clear him, if Aaron says he wants to play, he's going to play."
Health aside, Rodgers' other stipulation isn't looking great. The Jets sit at 15th place in the AFC with a 4-7 record. Zach Wilson was benched for his performance once again after a 29-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 11. So the Jets' effort to make up ground in the playoff race is being led by Tim Boyle, who was sacked seven times in his starting debut against the Dolphins on Black Friday. New York lost that game, 34-13.
That said, it's unclear how effective Rodgers himself would be in the Jets' current offense. But it sounds like he and the Jets believe there's still an opportunity to find out.