For obvious reasons, folks around the NY/NJ area and Jets fans across the globe are ecstatic about Aaron Rodgers' arrival from Green Bay. While awesome and akin to upgrading from a Flintstones-type vehicle to a Ferrari from the likes of Zach Wilson, we can't forget about second-year running back Breece Hall.
During his rookie campaign, Hall exploded onto the scene and, retroactively, has me wondering how Iowa State managed to lose so often with him in the backfield and Brock Purdy at quarterback. Anyway...it's a testament to Hall's rehab, work ethic, and physical freak showiness that he's already on the practice field, making cuts, and accelerating to speeds faster than is permissible in a school zone. Because remember? He tore his ACL on October 23, 2022.
That run Mike Garafolo refers to from that Next Gen Stat animation? You know, the fastest speed a ball-carrier reached at that time last season? Hall is running faster than that. We're talking about the run at the start of Hall's rookie highlight reel below:
Hall's raw breakaway/long speed reminds me of watching Ted Ginn Jr. at Ohio State. To me, Ginn looked like he was on one of those moving walkways at the airport while everyone else was on regular turf. It's one thing to do that in college when you're a man amongst pretty-big-ass-boys. It's a whole other situation to be displaying such eye-popping phenomena on the NFL gridiron, which Hall did here.
On only 80 carries during his maiden pro campaign, Hall gained 463 yards (5.8 YPC) and scored four TDs. He also nabbed 19 receptions for 216 yards and another score. I'm as excited as the next person about what Aaron Rodgers brings to Gang Green's passing game, yet it won't all fall on his shoulders. You can bet Robert Saleh will want to play a bit of ball control, lean on the rushing attack when he can and stretch out possessions to give his elite defense a rest and wear down the opposition.
I don't know if we can expect Hall to be full-go by Week 1 even though that's his goal. However, it bodes very well that he's this far along so soon. Rodgers is the engine that'll make the Jets' offense go. Hall is a legitimate X-factor who brings balance in an AFC East where the Dolphins didn't have a viable running game last season, the Patriots' QB situation is muddy, and the Bills lean on their franchise passer Josh Allen to be a high-volume runner.
Suddenly the seemingly gargantuan challenge of contending in that division amid a loaded conference doesn't seem as intimidating for the Jets, who have years of bad history and bad culture to overcome. What a difference a revitalized Aaron Rodgers and a more-driven-than-ever-by-way-of-major-injury-rehab Breece Hall could make.
PS: This upcoming documentary about Hall's journey to recovery sure sounds like it has the makings of something special. Will be even cooler to see Hall flourish afterwards with that as hard-reality context, because even with how far sports medicine has come in recent years to treat torn ACLs, it's still a brutal, grueling process to get back healthy and zero guarantees that a player will ever be the same again, particularly at a high-contact position like running back.