Reports emerged from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that it is a possibility that the Jets could yet bring Sam Darnold back for his fourth season in the Meadowlands and instead see what the former USC man looks like with competent coaching.
Difficulty evaluating Sam Darnold so far
Although Darnold hasn’t been great in the NFL so far, it is hard to properly evaluate the USC alum. Darnold has had the bad luck of being paired with Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains for the past two seasons in one of the league’s worst offenses and last season had to deal with mono, which set his development off course.
As a result, the Jets could opt to bolster the supporting cast around Darnold by drafting Heisman winner Devonta Smith or taking a potential future All-Pro in Penei Sewell and targeting someone like Chris Godwin in free agency.
Sewell would reinforce an offensive line that struggled mightily in 2020 and would provide new boss Robert Saleh with two long-term solutions at both tackle positions having got Mekhi Becton currently manning the left side.
Although Darnold has struggled in his career thus far he has had a stacked deck. Darnold has struggled with injury, he has had a poor supporting cast, a porous offensive line and incompetent coaching throughout his time in New Jersey.
Darnold finally has a competent offensive mind behind him
Despite the Jets offense being one of the worst in the league, it is hard to assess Darnold given other quarterbacks have struggled under Gase. The most notable example being Ryan Tannehill.
In Gase’s final year in Miami, Tannehill looked like a shell of his former self and looked as some would say as “washed”. However, since leaving the shackles of Gase, Tannehill was unlocked and is arguably playing the best football of his career.
Under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, Darnold could easily enjoy the most successful year of his career, but needs the chance and needs the players around him to succeed like every quarterback in the league.
Who knows what the Jets will do. Maybe they pursue a trade for the disgruntled Deshaun Watson with that extra capital acquired in the Jamal Adams trade, which would also likely see them trade Darnold to Houston.
Nevertheless, whatever happens Darnold is deserving of another opportunity as a starting NFL quarterback, the question is whether the Jets still believe in the former USC star.