New York Jets – The Sad Truth About Sam

Stephen Russo with thoughts on Sam Darnold…

It pains me to write this. It really does. If you’ve read my work before, you know that I am a Darnold believer. From his bounce back after the first pass of his career to the highlights he gave us late in his rookie year and in the middle of his sophomore season, I’ve been on his side. If you go back to before the season, I actually predicted the Jets to finish at 8-8 with a shot at the playoffs based on the sole reason that I felt Darnold was ready to make the leap in year 3… I was wrong.

The fact of the matter is that the Jets have failed Sam Darnold. In every single aspect they could have, they let him down. From his coaching, to surrounding him with talent, to designing an offense or, scratch that, even calling a few plays a game that tailor a piece of the game plan to his strengths, they failed him miserably. In his rookie season, they plucked Jeremy Bates out of the mountains to be his Offensive Coordinator. Midway through that season, they gave him the likes of Andre Roberts, Deontay Burnett, and Rishard Matthews to throw to. They have since doubled down by providing him with the worst coach in all of football who is accompanied by his equally subpar offensive staff, they surrounded him in his second season with statistically the worst offensive line in the league and then decided, as a cherry on top, they would let his favorite receiver and top target walk away before his third season. Wow.

However, Darnold has done nothing to help his cause. Evidenced by a glimmer of hope that we all had at MetLife Stadium on Sunday after the Jets scored a whopping 10 points (!) in the first half and took 3 red zone trips (insert excited face) that was quickly followed by 4 total yards (you read that right) in the second half, Darnold isn’t the only problem, but he is certainly part of it. Whether Adam Gase or Dowell Loggains call the plays, whether Jamison Crowder or Braxton Berrios is playing the slot, Darnold is not doing anything to prove that he is the answer at quarterback for the New York Jets. Simply put – he no longer looks the part. The wow plays are fewer and further between. And the run of the mill throws that need to be made are happening less and the mistakes that need to be avoided are happening more frequently.

Excuses can be made. And arguments can be made that those aren’t really excuses for him, they’re reasons. I get it. However, I would ask that we remain pragmatic, objective, realistic, whatever adjective you so choose, in looking at this. Actually, look at it through the same lens that you do with Adam Gase. The bottom line is, this is a results business. One could argue that Adam Gase has been set up to fail. He has been given a talent deprived roster that has been injury riddled for a season and a half, has been without his top defensive player for his entire Jets tenure and the other was traded away, and his starting quarterback has missed 5 games in a 23-game span. That’s not necessarily the easiest situation to win in. However, we know that our eyes don’t lie. We know that Adam Gase is not a good coach, and in this results business, Adam Gase fails to produce the one thing that matters: wins.

The same is true for Sam Darnold. Darnold has been dealt a hand like a foot in his 2.5 seasons here, but for the majority of it, hasn’t done enough to prove that he is definitively the answer for the Jets. And when that is coupled with an almost certain top draft pick and very real possibility of 0-16 and Trevor Lawrence staring at the Jets with the #1 overall pick, that decision has grown increasingly easier. Darnold ranks in the bottom of the league in almost every category, including passer rating, yards per attempt, and completion percentage. Despite the deck being stacked against him, he still has not done enough.

I, like many fans, was CERTAIN we had our quarterback as I watched him close out his rookie year. Every fiber of my being wanted it to be true. And it’s not going to be. It’s a sad truth to have to accept, but it is the truth.
Before the season started, I said that “Tank for Trevor” talk was blasphemy. This season has gotten me to the point where now I’m counting down the days until it becomes a reality.