FRISCO, Texas — On Monday night, head coach Mike McCarthy was settling into his office to begin watching the Jets – his next opponent – take on the Bills in a huge Monday Night Football clash that also featured his longtime friend and former coworker Aaron Rodgers beginning his new journey in New York.
However, just four snaps into Rodgers' new beginning, the 39-year-old went down with a torn achilles, ending his season in New York before it could truly get started.
When it initially happened, McCarthy feared a serious injury to the quarterback that he drafted back in 2005, but it reminded him of a similar play that happened during their 13 years together that he immediately bounced back from.
"You were hoping it wasn't serious," McCarthy said of the injury. "It kinda reminded me of a play in 2018 against the Bears early in the game he went in, told me on the headset he was done for the year. He had a fracture in his knee joint. And he came out at halftime and threw three touchdowns and won the game and played the rest of the year. That's what I was hoping was going to happen."
Instead, Rodgers' season was over before he could walk out of MetLife Stadium for the first time. In the days since, McCarthy has reached out to Rodgers to show love to his close friend as he begins his recovery.
"Yeah, I've definitely reached out to him," McCarthy said. "It's great to compete against people you care about. Him and I have been through a lot together. I have a tremendous amount of love for him. This is tough. I know he was very excited about this chapter in his life, and I was looking forward to seeing him this weekend."
With Rodgers done, McCarthy's focus shifts to third-year quarterback Zach Wilson who will take over the reins for the rest of the season, according to Jets head coach Robert Saleh. While it is a different challenge, McCarthy knows Wilson will have the team around him to compete on Sunday in Arlington.
"I thought [Wilson] went in and obviously did a nice job," he said. "This is a very good football team. They have weapons in all three phases. The energy, the division game, the Monday night, I was impressed with their team."
When asked if there was any let down with the challenge of Aaron Rodgers being vacated from Sunday's game, McCarthy expressed the desire to play against one of the greats, but also that the mission remains the same.
"I mean, that's only natural to want to play against a great player," he said. "But at the end of the day, we need to get to 2-0. Our focus has been good today. That's what we're looking at."