Any day now there will be a photo on social media of a fan in a Jets No. 16 jersey with “Lawrence” across the back. You can bank on it.
Three years ago, it was a fan in a Jets jersey with “Darnold” on it at a Yankees game that set Twitter abuzz.
Things change quickly in the NFL.
The Jets drafted Sam Darnold a year later and he was hailed as the team’s savior. It has not quite worked out that way, and now it feels like many Jets backers are ready to move on to the next savior — Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
But here’s the thing: It is not time to give up on Darnold yet, though it may be in a few months. If the Jets end up with the No. 1 pick in next spring’s draft, Lawrence is a no-brainer.
But what if the Jets don’t get that pick? It looks like 0-16 is coming. It looks like the Jets should be getting Lawrence’s jersey ready. But this season is not even half over. If the Jets win a game, they could end up picking No. 2. Strength of schedule is the tiebreaker for draft position, and the team with the weaker schedule gets the better pick. The Jets are going to have a very high strength of schedule and likely will lose those tiebreakers — and there are still seven other teams, not counting the Bengals and Eagles, who each have a tie, looking for win No. 2.
If the Jets do not end up with the No. 1 pick, the Darnold decision will be a tough one. Do they build around Darnold or move on to one of the top quarterbacks in the draft not named Lawrence?
There are 10 games left in this season and the Jets should not lose sight of what the priority was entering this year. This organization needs to figure out what it has in Darnold before January comes. Darnold has missed two games with a shoulder injury, but he appears to be on track to return Sunday. If he can stay on the field, that gives the Jets 10 more chances to watch Darnold and 10 more chances for general manager Joe Douglas to figure out what he has.
While Jets fans and media have already turned the page to Lawrence, internally the Jets still very much believe in Darnold. They still want to see what he can do when he gets his full complement of starting wide receivers on the field. The idea that the Jets would entertain trade talks for Darnold in the next two weeks is completely misguided.
Jets coach Adam Gase was asked about Darnold’s development Wednesday and cited the games he has played without his starting wide receivers as a big part of the problem.
“I look at it as how many games has he had with the group we put together to start the season?” Gase said. “We still haven’t seen what it looks like with the group we drafted and signed, where it was [Denzel] Mims, [Breshad] Perriman and [Jamison] Crowder, [Chris] Herndon. We haven’t seen that yet. … Some of these games have been hard to really like put on him and evaluate him because it’s survival mode, because of what’s going on injury wise.”
It is a fair point and part of why the evaluation of Darnold has been so difficult. He has had a weaker supporting cast than the star of a one-man show. He has thrown to 19 different wide receivers in his three years here. Robby Anderson and Crowder are the only ones with more than 50 receptions over those three years. Throw in 10 different running backs and seven tight ends to which he has thrown and Darnold has passed to 36 different players in three years. There has been little continuity or star power with that revolving door.
Still, Darnold has had some moments this year that cause concern. Outside of a great throw here and a great run there, he has made some poor decisions and still seems to struggle at reading defenses.
Maybe he will give the Jets more reason to believe over the next two-plus months. Or maybe management will decide to move on.
That decision, and the wooing of Lawrence, can wait until the offseason, though. This is still Darnold’s time.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article