Sam Darnold, Bill Belichick
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

No Sam Darnold means the New York Jets fans’ internal 2020 struggle will only intensify as Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots come to town.

Robby Sabo

The situation is tough to handle when the young quarterback is playing. It’s nearly impossible when he’s not.

How should the diehard New York Jets fan handle his/her team’s current 0-8 plight?

The correct answer is obvious: root for a victory no matter the thoughts currently floating around in the ether. Players, coaches and everybody else in that locker room know what the term “tanking” means, but every one of the team’s 16 regular-season games brings a precious feeling tough to argue.

No football player or coach rides with the tank. Each game is a new opportunity to develop one’s own independent contractor status and should be taken seriously.

It’s not quite as simple for the fans, especially with young Sam Darnold on the sideline.

Darnold, 23, is now listed as doubtful for the Monday Night Football tilt against Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots in two days. After practicing all week, Friday’s session didn’t feel quite right for the USC product. It led to head coach Adam Gase’s Saturday announcement that Joe Flacco will, indeed, start barring something strange.

“Unless something strange happens, Joe [Flacco] will be the starter for this game on Monday,” Gase told the media on Saturday’s regularly-scheduled Zoom call.

This unexpected turn forces the fan into a corner.

On one hand, it would be a beautiful thing to see Darnold finally receive a chance to play with his top three wide receivers all healthy. Gase also told the media that it looks good for both Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman. With Denzel Mims already entrenched, the activation of all three this Monday night would mark the first time all season the trio has played together.

Amazingly, Darnold exits the lineup just when that opportunity presents itself halfway through the season.

Darnold’s own professional future is at play, of course, but the very same can be said for the Jets organization. Trevor Lawrence continues to loom over every conversation, every scenario—for good reason.

One glance at the Indianapolis Colts’ actions the season Peyton Manning missed and Andrew Luck played out his final season at Stanford promotes tanking optimism.

Flacco’s presence could make it a bit easier for fans to accept inevitable doom, which includes a future with Lawrence, but the opponent matters greatly.

As much as some Jets fans are rigorously rooting for the tank, these are the Patriots, the franchise that has bullied the Jets for two decades. Belichick’s decision to spurn the organization—while the transfer of ownership from Leon Hess to Woody Johnson was in progress—set the scene for a period of NFL history that will never be forgotten.

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The six-time Super Bowl champs looking nothing of the such with Tom Brady in Tampa. Considering they’ve beaten the Jets each of the last eight meetings and 16 times in the last 18 meetings, to not knock the evil guys down just another peg while they’re finally vulnerable is a hit of epic proportions.

As sweet as the idea of Lawrence might be, knocking off the big, bad bullies of the NFL could taste just as sweet—if only for one week. Finally, Belichick has fallen, yet it doesn’t matter much during a lost season.

Darnold’s presence and his now-slim chance of progression this season allows the classic rooting-for-the-team route to come much easier. Without the kid, it has to be tough to not keep the tank in the back of the mind on a minute-by-minute basis.

Sam Darnold’s third missed game of the season is looming. The sudden wide receiver health and the opponent’s history and current ills are just the things to put the Jets fan in a much more confusing situation.

That’s right: Twenty-twenty continues to rage on. The internal struggle continues for the New York Jets fan.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, developer and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor | Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (sold in 2020). SEO: XLM Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com
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Dark Demonik
Dark Demonik
1 year ago

Poor Sam… From Hero To Zero In NYC i feel bad for him but i remember im a fan of the New York Jets and Sam is a good kid and he will find a team that will fix his game up. Jets poor set up failed. I wonder what Woody Johnson does *IF* he comes back to the Jets which was expected anyways with a president race going one way or another