Florham Park, NJ – Sam Darnold is recovering from a sprained foot, and the injury was bad enough that he had to wear a boot. For the average person it takes six to eight weeks to recover from a sprained foot, and Darnold is in his fifth week of rehabilitating the injury. He should be just about healthy. Last week, Bowles said he didn’t have enough snaps to play. If he’s ready to go this week, he gives the Jets a better chance to beat the Bills than Josh McCown.
Not only does Darnolds’ talent level far exceed McCown’s, McCown has thrown one touchdown in three games, and managed only 12 yards in the second half of last week’s last minute loss to the Titans. The 39-year-old looks like a shadow of the quarterback from last year, the best season in his 15 year career.
Darnold has not quite set the world on fire either; he sits at 30th in the league with a total QBR of 31.3, beating out only Josh Rosen (30.7). Case Keenum is in 29th, and he has a total QBR of 47. He still has time, but Darnold has not played well recently. Darnold didn’t start at quarterback until his junior year of high school, which was cut short with a foot injury. Besides that he has his senior year and two years at USC. He clearly needs as many repetitions as possible just playing quarterback.
Darnold’s last game, a 13-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins, he threw four interceptions, the last of which was returned for a touchdown. The Monday following the Dolphins loss, Darnold said “I feel fine. Some bumps and some bruises but everything is good.” He went on to miss three games. Darnold has watched the Jets lose those three games, including two AFC East losses. He should be hungry to get back on the field.
The Jets sit at 3-9, and as of last night’s Titans game, have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Losing can only help the franchise move up in the draft, so in theory, it would be beneficial to lose. But when Darnold plays it seems like the team as a whole plays harder. Be it the louder fans, the excitement of the kids potential, whatever it is, the team never had a performance like it had like the last time they played the Bills, which was Josh McCown’s first start of the season. That little boost is worth playing Darnold.
Jamal Adams says that this game is personal, and the entirety of the Jets organization should feel the same way. They were completely blown out by the Bills in what may have been the most embarrassing Jets loss in years. The Jets are on a six game skid, and the locker room is in desperate need of a win. Most of the team is underperforming, and if they can’t get a win in a revenge game against an equally pitiful Bills team, they might scare away potential big name free agents, and players like Quincy Enunwa might want to sign elsewhere.
Unless the Jets are going to start all their rookies and blatantly tank the rest of the way to ensure a higher draft pick, the Jets should play Darnold. Todd Bowles is yet to make the decision public.