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New York Jets fans should leave Sam Darnold in the past—at least for now

Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers, NY Jets, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

New York Jets fans need to leave Sam Darnold in the past

Are the ghosts of football past already starting to haunt the New York Jets? If they know what’s good for them, it’d be best to call the firehouse on North Moore Street in Tribeca and schedule an extraction.

If Sam Darnold was smart, he would remove himself from the Carolina Panthers’ Thursday night showdown against the Houston Texans (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network) and start preparing his speech for Canton. Why even show up?

The former Jets quarterback is the latest MVP anointed by the NFL’s social media era, one fueled by hyperbole and the concept of instant gratification.

The powers that be at the NFL wasted no time in organizing a reunion between Darnold, his former employers, and his metropolitan successor Zach Wilson. They squared off in an interconference showdown on kickoff weekend, a 19-14 decision that landed in Carolina’s favor. As Wilson faltered in his first New England experience in Week 2, Darnold surpassed 300 yards and earned a one-sided division victory over New Orleans.

A national football landscape that finds the Jets’ simplest mistakes a barrel of guaranteed laughs now has weekly ammunition in the form of Darnold.

Deadspin’s Criss Partee hinted that, under the watch of Darnold and a talented defense, starting 8-0 could be a “cakewalk” if they win a road game in Dallas on extended rest. Matt Wadleigh of Trojans Wire, USA Today’s section centered on the University of Southern California’s endeavors, has already placed the blame of Darnold’s New York washout entirely on the Jets.

Fans of Gang Green have already begun to second guess the decision to move on from Darnold in the early going, an existential crisis only exacerbated by the blue checkmarks’ tired attempts at Jets-based comedy.

There’s only one way to compare Darnold and Wilson, at least in the year 2021: don’t.

Under any normal circumstance, there’d be no realistic way to compare a rookie thrower and a newly minted franchise man in the midst of his fourth NFL season. Conventional wisdom, however, often goes out of the window when the Jets are involved in would-be football comedy.

There’s nothing Jets fans can really do in that regard, especially as New York-based comedy continues to get clicks.

But the second-guessing amongst themselves needs to stop.

The Wilson puzzle was never going to be solved over the first two weeks of his career, even if he posted a pair of perfect 158.3 games. But the Jets and their fans can’t occupy themselves with what Darnold is doing several states away.

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

The Jets have enough issues as it is. The offensive line is trying to stay afloat without Mekhi Becton and further ailments have created the most macabre game of musical chairs on defense—they don’t need to worry about what Darnold is doing, especially in the mere two games he has spent in teal, silver and black.

On paper, the Jets established a crew for Wilson that’s better than anything Darnold ever had to work with. Instead of a hodgepodge of undrafted free agents, journeymen and first-round washouts, New York has acquired several talents at or near the prime of their careers.

Darnold likewise came to Carolina with a fully stocked arsenal, one that featured a familiar face (Robby Anderson) and the returning services of an all-around stud (Christian McCaffrey). Though the team is still trapped in a rebuild of its own, Carolina is further along in its respective process than the Jets were at any time of the Darnold era.

The Jets have enough to worry about. Adding the well-being of Darnold in a different, far-better-stocked and established locale is only a stressful addition to an already crowded list.

Just two games have been played. Leave Sam Darnold in the past—at least for now.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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2 years ago

Sorry, no. It seems to me that a lot of people “just want to move on” from this discussion because, frankly, their evaluations of Darnold were wrong and they don’t like being confronted with being wrong.

The point is not to compare Wilson to Darnold. The point is to evaluate Joe Douglas as a GM. So, it is absolutely, 100%, worth asking the question of whether the Jets made the right call in trading Darnold and drafting Wilson when there were other alternatives, including:

A. Sticking with Darnold and drafting another player at #2 (e.g. Sewell).
B. Sticking with Darnold and trading down to get, at worst, the same package that SF gave up (i.e. including two future 1sts).
C. Drafting Wilson at #2, but starting the season with Darnold and increasing his trade value instead of letting him go for a 2nd.

I’m not even going to say that any of these alternatives were clearly better options. But people don’t want to consider them now because they dismissed them out of hand based on a bad evaluation of Darnold’s talent.

2 years ago

I’m glad somebody said this. The Jets moved on from Darnold as much for financial reasons. Darnold is playing well so far, but he is a veteran QB, with a great RB, a decent O-line, some good WRs and a very good defense that’s to be expected.Wilson is still getting his feet wet. Expect the Panthers to vey for a playoff spot, expect the Jets to have 6 or 7 wins, at most. How well Darnold and Wilson play are separate things. All Jets fans need to focus on Zach Wilson and his progress. Wilson being a playoff QB is couple of years off and we shouldn’t worry about it