The Jets are sitting at 0-4 through the first quarter of the season. The team’s future looks bleak and they sit atop the draft order currently. With one of the most refined college prospects in history on the board, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. What would the Jets do?
Coming into this season, the team faced varying expectations. Some expected the team to be middle of the road at best, some expected a playoff push and other expected a breakout from Sam Darnold. The last expectation was one that those within the organization likely agreed with as well, Darnold needed to emerge as the franchise quarterback. Four games is a very small sample size, however Darnold has not looked great.
To this point Darnold has 792 yards, three TDs, four INTs and a 59.4% completion percentage. He’s also rushed for 117 yards and a score. Darnold has been efficient, but he has failed to stand out yet. He only aided that notion when he had an abysmal performance against Indianapolis in Week three where he tossed three interceptions. He did show some of his big play capabilities by ripping off a 46 yard rushing touchdown and displayed some serious grit by fighting back from his shoulder injury to finish the game. The problem is, Darnold missed his first game of the 2020 campaign, but he has now missed time in all three of his pro seasons, that is an issue.
To preface at least his rookie year injury and the most recent shoulder injury, were the faults of circumstance. The Jets have wasted away the bulk of Sam Darnold’s rookie contract on forfeit football. They have surrounded him with a revolving door of somewhat talented but heavily underutilized pieces. The offensive line has been a revolving door of mediocre linemen who were second options or the worst starters on their former teams, aside from Connor McGovern, Cameron Clark and Mekhi Becton. They gave him one head coach who had a ceiling of mediocre at best and was nearing the end of his tenure in Todd Bowles, only to replace him with one of the worst coaches in the franchise’s history.
At least under Jeremy Bates there was an end of season growth. Under Adam Gase, despite being bogged down by all these flaws, he has still shown his brilliance at times. Yet, the truth is, he should be much further along by now. Whether you think it is because of the piss poor situation provided to him or because of his own lack of growth, one thing is for certain, this has not turned out as the franchise hoped. So, if the Jets are on the clock with a chance to select one of the most complete and pro ready prospects in history, why not pick him and completely restart?
Over course this is a move that I myself don’t want to see. Sam Darnold has given his all to this team when they have failed to even give him a thing. One option could even be to keep Darnold and trade down from the first pick to secure one of the largest draft hauls in recent memory. If Joe Douglas truly believes Sam Darnold can be a star, then by trading down in the draft, he would have an immense amount of capital to try to put blue chip pieces on both sides of the ball.
The problem is, a potential new head coach may want Trevor Lawerence. That coach could come in and pull a move reminiscent to that of Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona and say, “This guy is one of the most talented prospects I have ever seen, I want him to be a Jet”. That scenario is unfortunately one that is becoming all too real. Jets fans know that it is going to be a happy farewell to Adam Gase when he leaves Florham Park. For Sam though, it would be a painful breakup, but it’s one that makes the most sense for both parties in the long term future.
Sam Darnold deserves a chance to reach his full potential with a competent organization. The Jets and specifically Joe Douglas deserve a real chance to right the ship. Douglas deserves to truly remake this team in his image and that starts at QB1. Darnold could end up staying and being the guy, but when a guy like Trevor Lawerence could already provide a higher ceiling, how does Douglas not jump on that? Not only that, but Lawerence comes from a school that produced Deshaun Watson just a few years ago. Watson was just as much of a winner as Lawerence in college, but not nearly as physically gifted as a passer. Watson has been a top QB when he is on, so if he can do that, then imagine what Lawerence will bring to the table.
The potential allure of one of the most decorated prospects in history could be too much for the Jets to not pull the trigger, but at the same time, Sam Darnold is only 23 years old. Lawerence is only two years younger than Darnold, and Darnold may not have all the intangibles Lawerence has, but with three seasons under his belt (by the end of the season) a new coach mixed with that experience could provide some allure as well. Ultimately, the decision could come down to the desires of the next coach, but if Lawerence is available there is a strong chance he is repping the green and white next season.