“Obviously we know it’s torn,” Saleh said during a news conference at the team’s training facility. “That’s been confirmed.”
Saleh said Rodgers is out for the year and needs surgery. He did not provide further details.
“Not the way any of us wanted it to go, but we know the commitment you’ve made to this team will continue to impact us moving forward,” the Jets wrote in a statement posted to social media earlier Tuesday in which they urged Rodgers to “[get] well soon.”
The outcome came as no surprise to the Jets. They said late Monday night that they expected an MRI exam to confirm their fear of an Achilles’ injury.
“I feel more for Aaron than anyone,” Saleh said Tuesday. “He’s invested so much into this organization, so much into this journey that he’s embarked on and wanting to be a part of what we’ve got going here. … I have a lot of emotions for him. As for us, it’s really all about him. It is. I don’t look at it like, ‘Woe is me here,’ for the organization. I think guys are excited about being able to step up and continue the things that we’ve been building.”
Rodgers left the field on a cart Monday after being injured on the Jets’ fourth offensive snap of their 22-16 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Rodgers’s injury and abrupt exit reinforce the notion that the Jets are a hard-luck franchise for which little ever goes as hoped or planned. His arrival prompted dreams of a Super Bowl season with an all-time great quarterback. Instead, the Jets must turn back to quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 selection in the 2021 draft who was benched twice last season, as they attempt to improve on last season’s 7-10 record.
“I think from a locker room standpoint … no one was fazed,” Saleh said Monday night. “And the way we came out in the second half, we were on a mission, just picked ourselves up off the ground. … That was a gritty performance. I’m proud of the guys.”
Wilson played well Monday. The Jets leaned on their defense, which forced four turnovers by Bills quarterback Josh Allen, and won on an overtime touchdown by rookie Xavier Gipson on a 65-yard punt return.
“I think we all know what we have in that locker room,” Saleh said Monday. “… They’re an unbelievably resilient group. They’ve already known that. Our defense came on in the second half and just took it personal. … I’m proud of the group. But they didn’t show us anything that we didn’t already know.”
The Jets opted to retain Wilson even after the Rodgers trade, and Rodgers was supportive of the young quarterback. Now the Jets must hope Rodgers’s mentoring will help Wilson become the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.
“I thought he was awesome,” Saleh said following the game. “He had a couple of big third-down throws, clutch throws to extend drives and score points. … He threw the interception [but] still bounced back. It didn’t snowball into anything big. We still have a lot of faith in him. I think we’ve proven that by keeping him here and continuing to invest in him. I’m excited for him and his opportunity.”
Wilson said late Monday that he feels “a lot more prepared” for this chance after learning from Rodgers, however briefly.
“Unfortunately you go in off of an injury,” Wilson said. “But to get the win was huge against a big team [on] ‘Monday Night Football.’ That was the first time I’ve been part of anything like that. The fan base was unbelievable tonight. It’s a long season. … So you can’t get too high or too low.”
Saleh said Tuesday that the Jets “are going to look through some things” in terms of adding a quarterback to the roster. But he added: “I do want to make it very clear: Zach’s our quarterback. We’ve got a lot of faith in Zach. We’re really excited about this opportunity. But we’re rolling with Zach and excited for him.”
Saleh maintained that his team’s championship aspirations remain unchanged.
“I don’t know why people are trying to put an obituary onto our team name,” he said. “Aaron is an unbelievable piece to this whole thing, and we love him. But I think there’s 52 other guys in the locker room plus the 16 practice squad guys that believe that we can do a hell of a lot of good things here.”
Saleh described Rodgers as being “down” and “a little disappointed.” He said he did not speak with Rodgers about the quarterback’s football future, calling that a conversation “for another day.”
Rodgers said during the offseason that he had been 90 percent certain he would retire before changing his mind during a darkness retreat. He opted to keep playing and pushed for a trade to the Jets. He has said he did not expect his pairing with the Jets to be a one-season-only arrangement. But now he must work his way back from a serious injury if he wants to play on.
“We’re going to rally behind him regardless of when he’s going to be back,” Jets wide receiver Allen Lazard — also Rodgers’s teammate with the Packers — said in the locker room late Monday night. “Whatever he needs, we’re going to support him.”
The Jets visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Asked Tuesday about his message for his team’s fans, Saleh borrowed from the famed news conference coach-speak of the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick.
“We’re on to Dallas,” Saleh said.