Florham Park, NJ – The New York Jets are on a six-game losing streak and at this point just riding out the season, looking towards next year. The team has been a mess on both sides of the ball and there is no spark to create any sort of drive for them. The one thing to look forward to this week is the return of rookie quarterback Sam Darnold who is likely to start after sitting out the past three weeks with a sprained foot.
Darnold’s rookie season has been a rocky one, full of inconsistencies. After week six, the Jets were 3-3 and things seemed to be going right for this team. Darnold was looking more comfortable in the pocket and was taking more chances down the field instead of throwing check down passes. His accuracy was improving as well as his sense to scramble when the pocket was compromised. But after their win over the Indianapolis Colts, everything has gone downhill.
With Darnold at the helm, the Jets lost their next three games which featured three embarrassing performances by the offense. They couldn’t score over 20 points in any of the games. In those three games, Darnold had completed less than 55% of his passes in each game and tallied seven interceptions. After their game against the Miami Dolphins, Darnold revealed he had suffered a foot injury and would miss the next three games. His current stats show he has thrown 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 55% of his passes and throwing for 1,934 yards. He has a quarterback rating of 68.3.
With Josh McCown as his replacement, Darnold would watch from the bench and though he wasn’t playing, the hope for him would be to learn from the veteran. McCown, who had the best season of his career with the Jets in 2017, seemed to be a favorite to start this season and maybe Darnold should have stayed on the bench. Unfortunately, there was not much to learn from McCown these past few weeks.
The Jets lost all three games with McCown starting including an embarrassing 41-10 blowout loss against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife. OMG the Bills! The only touchdown in that game came from running back Isaiah Crowell. The offense lacked execution and the Jets were totally out played. In the past three games, the Jets have had two offensive touchdowns, the first being Crowell’s run and McCown’s passing touchdown to Jermaine Kearse against the New England Patriots. To go with his one touchdown, McCown has thrown four interceptions, completed 55% of his passes, and averaged 4.9 yards a throw. Sorry Josh McCown fans, he’s not the savior!
The offense looks sluggish and almost like they don’t even want to play anymore under Jeremy Bates, who has come under fire the last month. Despite the season being over, the return of Darnold gives them something to play for. They need to protect the future franchise QB to help him improve and become that impact player he is known for. The lessons off the field were brief and of little to no value but the time spent resting might have cleared his mind from the pressure he faced as a starter and the pressure from opposing defenses. Most fans look at these last four games for the Jets as meaningless, but for Darnold, he will look at these games as the way to right the ship and put himself on track to playing effectively and with confidence.
This Sunday the Jets face the Bills in Buffalo. It will be the first time both Sam Darnold and Bills quarterback Josh Allen meet in the NFL and hopefully many more to come. Both are friends and were drafted in the 2017 draft. Darnold will need to be sharp and level headed to have success against the Bills defense if he wants to lead his team to a win. If he hasn’t learned from McCown’s mistakes against the Bills, then the Jets should start seriously looking at who their best option is in the 2019 draft.