June Jones, a football staple for over five decades, has an unconventional solution to the New York Jets’ quarterback quandary.
June Jones knows a thing or two about professional quarterbacking. The prophet of the run-and-shoot offense partook in five on-field seasons with Atlanta and Toronto before embarking on a coaching career that continues to this day.
His latest attempt at offensive magic? Trying to solve the New York Jets‘ quarterback situation.
As the Jets try to figure out whether to stick with Sam Darnold or use the second overall pick of April’s draft on a new thrower, Jones sees no reason why the Jets can’t do both.
Jones reasons that Darnold deserves a chance to protect his hold on the franchise starting role because the Jets haven’t surrounded him with the best situation. The former Atlanta Falcons head coach (1994-96) said that, despite the lack of help, Darnold has “gotten better and better and better.”
“I think he’s been in a very, very tough situation in New York. It’s not the easiest place to play and to live there full-time unless you’re on top of your game every day,” Jones continued. “Because of radio talk shows and social media, you can’t be a rookie anymore. As soon as you put on that jersey as a first-round pick, they expect you to play like a 10-year veteran.”
The Jets continue to remain non-commital on Darnold’s future. A decision looms on his fifth-year option on May 3, four days after they choose second in the 2021 NFL draft in Cleveland.
Mock drafts across the nation project the Jets to pick a quarterback in that spot, with Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance all amongst the possible selections. Consensus top pick Trevor Lawrence is expected to go to Jacksonville with the opening selection.
No matter what the Jets do at quarterback, Jones does seem confident in newly-minted head coach Robert Saleh … though he did advise fans to be patient with the new boss.
“I would say (the Jets) improve just because (Saleh) will make them better on defense,” Jones said. “But at the same time, I think .500 is going to be a stretch with the situation he’s been handed right there.”
Jones last coached in the NFL in 1998, serving as the quarterbacks coach and later interim head coach of the then-San Diego Chargers. Afterward, he gained prosperity through college tenures at Hawaii (1999-2007) and Southern Methodist (2008-14).
He is currently listed as the head coach of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, who ended the rebooted league’s shortened debut with a perfect 5-0 mark. Under Jones’ watch, Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker led the league in yardage (1,338) and touchdown passes (15) before playing his way into an NFL contract with Carolina.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags