Sam Darnold, Adam Gase
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase isn’t solely to blame for Sam Darnold‘s incredible regression over the last year and change.

Robby Sabo

It just never fails. The New York Jets play another game, predictably lose, and that’s just the start. What follows is audio and video that never fails to produce familiar results.

Sam Darnold took the virtual podium after his team’s casual 20-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday after putting forth one of his worst professional starts. Just 197 yards, plenty of indecision and two terrible interceptions headlined the kid’s return to action.

Peppered by fair yet challenging questions, Darnold remained the perfect professional during anything but a perfect time.

“I made a bad decision,” Darnold said about his first interception that floated inside of Jamison Crowder‘s sideline intent. “I think I could have just put it more toward the sideline.”

There isn’t a solid third-year quarterback who doesn’t throw the ball low and away in that situation with plenty of traffic in the vicinity.

The second interception was even worse. Darnold threw a lazy out-cut to Breshad Perriman that saw cornerback Xavien Howard in perfect underneath position the entire time. The kid had no business throwing that ball.

It’s easy to understand Darnold’s mind here. Despite tight coverage, the quarterback is thinking he can fit the ball in before Howard turns his head. Howard’s leverage should have made this a no-go for Darnold.

The regression is real, and it’s happened under Adam Gase‘s watch. Just don’t, for one moment, think one man is solely responsible for such a disastrous situation. How could anybody believe such a thing after watching those two interceptions?

Consider Darnold’s play down the stretch of the 2019 season. He played solidly after a disastrous three weeks against the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins.

In D.C., Darnold threw for 293 yards and four touchdowns (121.3 quarterback rating). He threw for multiple touchdowns in four of five games starting with the Washington game and even played a conservative yet professional game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16.

This all happened under Gase. In fact, Darnold’s 2019 season produced a better statistical season than his rookie campaign. His 3,024 yards and 19-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio surpasses his 2,865 yards and 17-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio from his rookie season (13 games apiece).

This season has seen a, “When it rains, it pours,” type of performance.

By no means should Gase be excused from a major slice of the responsibility pie. The man in charge of the football team should always receive a bulkier share of the praise or blame. It’s just the way it is, and when considering his outdated scheme, it’s deserved.

Solutions are nowhere to be found. Gase usually makes this clear without much of an effort in the immediate aftermath of each loss.

“It’s hard to know exactly,” Gase said when asked about what went wrong for his quarterback and offense. “The flow of the game felt one way the first half. I felt like we had an opportunity on one drive, (then) we have a drop. We sputtered after that. We had a couple of plays here and there, but nothing where we sustained any drives. We’ll look at this thing. We’ll correct off it. We’ll learn from it. I felt like he was throwing the ball well. That’s a tough secondary to go against.”

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Darnold’s play is the idea that it’s never been easier to get a quarterback going in today’s NFL. Courtesy of rules that would better suit a friendly backyard game, average quarterbacks often have tremendous statistical seasons.

In 2018, Los Angeles Rams third-year quarterback Jared Goff threw for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. This is the same man who looked lost as a rookie and who hasn’t quite carried the “stud” label over the last two seasons.

This season, Buffalo Bills youngster Josh Allen has thrown for 3,028 yards and 22 scores to eight picks. (That’s not even taking into account his incredible contribution in the rushing game.) Despite serious accuracy issues, the Bills’ offensive coaching staff has helped the Wyoming talent tremendously.

Gase surely hasn’t put Darnold in a position to succeed—unlike Brian Daboll and Sean McVay. Let’s also not forget about the organization’s football sin that was not drafting a first-round offensive lineman since 2006. But for it to be this bad means Gase isn’t the only individual to blame.

Veteran Joe Flacco nearly helped the Jets beat the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers. When Jets X-Factor claimed that Flacco would give the Jets a better chance to win in early October, the fanbase nearly lost its collective mind.

Sure, part of it deals with the type of offense the Jets run. Gase’s scheme is a decade-old design that predates the college-principled invasion we’ve seen over the better part of the last decade. This fits Flacco much easier, but another large part deals with Darnold’s reluctance to simply let it fly in the right situations.

On Monday’s regularly-scheduled conference call, Gase told the media what NFL defenses are doing to his offense. They are trying to “choke them in man coverage.” The strategy worked in spades early in the season, especially considering the absence of Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman. But even when those guys returned, defenses would still play the Jets with disrespect.

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Press across the board with a single-high or even zero-blitz look behind it is what these guys see on a weekly basis. Against New England, Flacco immediately looked to counter that with downfield chunks to Perriman and Mims. Only then does the chess match officially start. Only then does the offense finally find breathing room in the underneath game.

Flacco’s attitude and anticipation have far exceeded Darnold’s. Instead of safe options and indecision, the veteran rolled with a let-it-fly game plan that fits today’s NFL. Darnold refuses to own the same mindset, something that leads to a complete washout of a game (as seen against Miami at MetLife Stadium). He’s also always a touch late when deciding where to go with the ball, as seen on one 9-route to Perriman against the Dolphins.

The full complement of weapons was available. The offensive line played, at the very least, well enough to yield success in the passing game. What was missing was a required mindset needed to make a defense pay for its transgressions.

Earlier in the season, some of Gase’s game plans didn’t allow the quarterback to own such a mindset. That’s changed over the last several weeks. Nonetheless, Adam Gase is the No. 1 culprit when attributing blame for Sam Darnold‘s mess of an early professional career, but don’t think for one moment he’s the only individual who deserves blame. Darnold’s return to action is starting to make it clear (to the masses) he deserves a great portion of the culpability as well.

It’s incredibly easy to hop on the popular narrative: Gase stinks and everything is his fault. Easy isn’t the game. If that was the fairy-tale case, every NFL organization would take its share of the overall NFL success.

The difficult thing to do is assess it with an objective eye and hold everybody accountable. This unfortunately includes the man himself, Sam Darnold. There’s just no other way to slice it at this stage of the game.

Can the kid bounce back and make a career of it? Does he have the ability to put up a Josh Allen-type passing year in the NFL? Of course. This NFL that greatly discriminates against defensive football is one that allows every starting quarterback that opportunity.

Again, though, that’s the easy question.

What’s difficult to ask is this: Would Sam Darnold be included in the elite group of quarterbacks that played during a much tougher passing era? Would he have belonged in a group that included the likes of Dan Marino, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana and Warren Moon a quarter of a century ago? Does he possess that type of special ability?

The more you ask yourself the difficult questions, the easier it becomes to obtain the crucial answers.

It can never be just one man when it’s this bad. The New York Jets organization, Adam Gase, Joe Douglas, Mike Maccagnan and the man himself, Sam Darnold, are all currently responsible.

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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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Bro Bdown
Bro Bdown
1 year ago

This was a WASTE OF WRITING SPACE.

Talk about Lazy.

Your hit piece on Sam here makes it really sound like Joe Flacco is what is needed in today’s NFL. Except Flacco has a Superbowl Mvp in his trophy case and is a BACKUP on a 0-11 team.

Reading this would make me think Flacco didn’t start four games this year himself and is 0-4. Reading this would make lead so e to believe that Flacco started a game against these very SAME dolphins and produced a whopping ZERO points. Flaccos Jet offense which at the time had Lev Bell managed THREE ENTIRE MORE YARDS than Sam did. Hey wasn’t Flacco last seen in Denver who needed a QB? Well here were are Flacco is a Jet and Denver is STILL looking for a QB

This Article is written as if Adam Gase has a LONG list of loyal players singing his praises and willing to run through a wall for him.

The Jets have that kind of coach. You are right. We saw it Sunday. The Defense played inspired and we’ll over Thier heads. For a bunch of castoffs and never beens. Greg Williams got guys to play. Points scored off Darnold Turnovers Sunday? ZERO.

The Jets Suck HISTORICALLY bad. And the jerks in the equation are Woody Johnson and Adam Gase. But I guess you guys show your “talent” by making the 23 yr old kid who just got here THE REASON for nearly FIFTY YEARS of organizational ineptitude.The scapegoat. It’s like we all know Adam Gase is horrible. But we know that. Hey let’s crush Sam.

Hey where was Sam Darnold when this Team was Drafting Calvin Pryor and Dustin Keller? Oh he was in middle school. And why bring up Pryor? Because he and Keller is who the Jets drafted instead of Joe Flacco and Future league MVP Ray Rice. The Jets were qb needy the NEXT year and REACHED on Sanchez. Gee is that Sam’s Fault too?. The Jets had a solid defense line and run game and plugged in Sanchez and Keller instead of Flacco and Rice… The Ravens had the same and picked 13 spots later and got Flacco. Who made that choice? Who has been making bad choices for decades?

Hey Mahommes is great. Leading the current NFL dynasty. Game changer. Fun fact. The Jets Passed on Mahaomes and Drafted Jamal Adams. AND THEN DRAFTED MARCUS MAYE BEHIND HIM. Sam was at USC then. Jets had Fitzpatrick and INVESTED IN
CHRISTIAN Hackenbergg and thus were LOADED at qb. They passed on Dak Prescott to take Hackenberg. They also passed on Deshaun Watson. Later in the same draft they Chose Chad Hansen when George Kittle came off the board 5 picks later. Had alot of picks that year. NONE still with the team.

Wow…. is the Celebrated Jet in this town???? Fifty years later ITS STILL JOE NAMATH…. But in your infinite WISDOM . Sam regressed. The Best Jet in the last 30 years was Revis. Best Coach we ever had was Bellicheck. Both won Super Bowls in New England.

Right after being on the field with the his “weapons” which don’t include a Tight End as a passing option. Lol. How would Tom Brady look without Gronk? Mahommes and no Kelce? Yet the Jet Offensive playcaller draws up NO PLAYS for the tight end. Also fun fact before the season Jet receiving core was rated dead last in the league before they saw a single snap. Then on top of already being the worst they got hurt exposing horrible depth. By his weapons do you mean a used plastic butter knife?

Sam’s Favorite guy was Robby Anderson. So the team with the load of capspace decided to low-ball and not even make an offer to his #1 receiver instead opting to roll the dice that a guy who has never been above a #3 on any healthy roster to be a #1. Let Robby walk. Robby got a 2 year deal for a reasonable price and he currently has 75 catches and 912 yards with five games to go. Causing Joe Douglas to say HIS BAD. he misread the market. Tell any QB that crap about Thier #1 receiver. It’s not gonna go well. “Wait… We had the money… But you didn’t check his price”???

Ur excited because Flacco lit up a depleted Patriots secondary while Sam struggled against PLAYOFF defenses. Wow. Flacco lit up those 2-8 chargers why couldn’t Sam do that against the 9-1 Chiefs???? Hmmmm????? How did you feel about Flacco in “today’s NFL ” after he threw that pick six last week after the Jets had taken momentum?

This Article focussed on the two bad throws? Did u mention that all receivers were well covered and there were no options? Did you share that even in two TE sets that are designed pass plays both TEs block. I actually saw a play where Sam was scrambling while Herndon and griffin struggled to both block the same guy.

The kicker misses a 29 yard chip shot field goal and I read articles today about them wanting to make a movie about his journey to the NFL. Lol.

Sam Darnold rated a 94 at the combine. His ratings were considered “generational”. Trevor Rated at a 97 currently. But in context Brady Rogers Montana Young Manning…. None of them rated higher than Darnold. Yet we make HIM the problem. Not the guys who can’t draft to save Thier lives.

The Story Should be THE ACTUAL RELEVANT STORY… Can a franchise who has not drafted and properly nurtured a generational talent at the qb position in FIFTY YEARS get it right with Trevor Lawrence? Screwed up Sanchez, Geno Smith Before him, Chad Pennington, Glen Foley… The list goes on.

Repetition is important for greatness. Sam looks at different coaches, different play callers, different lineman and different receivers every week. So where is his consistency?

So…… You made this piece about a few errant throws in a game that didn’t matter because every JET apologist WANTS 0-16 and Trevor Lawrence. Sam did the best he could with this JOKE of a franchise. Why pile on him? So why kill Sam?

If Sam came out and balled out and won three games the Jets would be laughed at for “missing” Lawrence. It would be the “JETSy” thing to do. Why is That expression associated with being Horribly tragically dumb and stupid? It was born after decades of ignorance and Neglect.

It’s difficult to Believe that after 2 or three practices together. Darnold Perriman and Mims weren’t a well oiled machine. With thousands of reps.

Odd how Gases offenses look better run by SUPER BOWL WINNING QBS who can call Thier own plays and make Thier own adjustments. Hence making Thier own decisions. Yet he was bought in to “Develop” a young qb(youngest to EVER START AN NFL GAME?) . Sam can’t process defenses properly. Do I blame the second year qb or the coach? God what Madness do I speak? Ur right blame the player.
For being a few inches short on passes made by virtue of processing information in nano seconds. While 300 pound men fly at him untouched But to the guys who have YEARS, MONTHS, WEEKS to make good decisions with TONS of film stats and testimonies time and time they fail. Choose wrong. Chiefs gave up less for Mahaomes than we did for Sam just three years ago. And already readying Sam for the Recycle bin. Mahaomes just signed the first American Half BILLION dollar deal. Choices and timing I guess. Have you devoted ink to that?

I like the team I love is all the place. So much suck to try to pull together in a single post. And there is still Sooo much we haven’t discussed. Plexico Buress, See Miller, Stephen Hill, the guy who broke Geno Smith’s Jaw. Fun fact Geno Smith still in the league Christian Hackenberg never played a single snap.

Hey it’s a Pandemic still. U guys hiring ova there? Apparently I can go on and on too.

Dark Demonik
Dark Demonik
1 year ago
Reply to  Bro Bdown

A Hit Piece? You want him to write a fluff piece of how good Sam Darnold did? He is in year 3 and has done NOTHING…. Stop the crying

wjf2946
wjf2946
1 year ago
Reply to  Dark Demonik

IF U do not have the tools to do your job; should your boss fire U????
Would you perform with a WIRED TELEPHONE v Cellphone; in this PANDEMIC?
Can you correct generation concepts in a year? Please lets not get so caught up with the individuals in disagreement.
The team has been a virtual rebuild w/ MINOR flashes of improvement and MAJOR Actions of the NEW CHIEFS
REMEBER the titans.
Will46

Bro Bdown
Bro Bdown
1 year ago
Reply to  wjf2946

EXACTLY…

By this Same measure Can ANYONE name a Single person in the Jet Organization right now that you can say is “doing Thier job”. I haven’t been to the facilities myself. But maybe the bathrooms are cleaned properly. And even that’s a MAYBE.

The front office has drafted poorly and all the free agent signings have failed. Who gets blame there?

It’s funny to me that on a Professional sports franchise where winning should be the BUSSINESS, a corporation like the JETS employ Hundreds of people and pay out millions and salaries yet only ONE PERSON week in and week out is ACTUALLY graded on wins and losses.

That horrible o line we have? All those guys will get other jobs on other NFL rosters no big deal. The receivers dropping passes ,running wrong routes and getting beared on a pretty regular basis will do other things. No one will talk about them. Pierre Dessir (gives up 2 tds and 175yds receiving per game) already gone and forgotten BUT NOT BLAMED FOR ANY OF THIS…

ADAM GASE WILL ESCAPE BLAME… SO too will the Johnson’s. Neither Have WON ANYTHING IN THE NFL EVER. Everyone will instead lay this stink at the feet of the Kid you traded picks to draft. SAM DARNOLD is the YOUNGEST PERSON TO START A NFL GAME AT QB since the merger.) And dissect HIS DECISSION making when the ORGANIZATION CHOSE SAM…. They ALSO choose to NOT build around him. They Also CHOSE ADAM GASE to be his Coach. After changing coaches and systems and O-lines on him after his rookie year. Second year new coach new system new line. Third year. New o line again new receivers. Guys hurt moving in and out the lineup.

Guess it’s fun and easier to discuss decisions made by people with seconds to make decisions.

I guess it’s sad to to discuss the bad decisions of Organization for FOUR FREAKEN DECADES.

THE STORY WRITTEN SHOULD BE. IS IT TIME FOR THE JETS TO CONTRACT?
An organization that just can’t get out of its own way and is just perpetually bad. Well now that I have typed that , I see the point. Greatness SELLS. The NFL has Mahommes and the Chiefs. To prop up the Winners of the NFL you NEED LOOSERS. The NY Jets along with the Cleveland Browns have been pretty much EXACTLY THAT.

CAN WE PLEASE STOP PRETENDING ANYTHING ELSE.
The crying about Sam Darnold should stop.

Darnold will be in this league for years. And I would wager Sam Darnold suits up for a playoff game Way before the NY Jets ever do .

Dark Demonik
Dark Demonik
1 year ago
Reply to  Bro Bdown

Do you want your pillows fluffy for Sam Darnold? =D

Bro Bdown
Bro Bdown
1 year ago
Reply to  Dark Demonik

The JET Organization has been in the NFL for over FIFTY YEARS…..
NAME ONE JET QB OTHER THAN JOE NAMATH THAT “GOT IT DONE”

Ok easier still…..
Name ONE ORGANIZATIONAL THING THE JETS HAVE DONE SINCE DRAFTING THE KID. Name the Pro Bowler Drafted since he got here. Name the elite receiver bought in to help him. I can. Zero and washed up Denarius Thomas, Washed up Chris Hogan sat for a YEAR Leveon Bell.

But The FOCUS is on Darnold. It’s an 0-11 lost season. Sam didn’t even play in four of those games.
My thing is write about something that matters. The fact that Sam threw 2 picks and 197 yards in a game that mattered to no one. On the same day other guys threw for less than 100 yards and thier teams actually WON.

The story here is ADAM GASE.

How much more can a person embarrass himself and an organization? Won’t even own up to who is calling these plays. 4 STRAIGHT wr screen passes? Going for 4th and 1 with a Super obvious Gore run that was stuffed. (Were ALSO in Fg range when that happened. Game was closer)

No the reason the Jets lost is Sam Darnolds two INT that yeilded ZERO POINTS.

DID ANY OF THE DROPPED PASSES MATTER?

Dark Demonik
Dark Demonik
1 year ago
Reply to  Bro Bdown

*yawn*

Bro Bdown
Bro Bdown
1 year ago
Reply to  Dark Demonik

Great contribution