Heading into his second year in the NFL, how much should New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold play during the preseason?
Football’s back! The NFL’s preseason is underway and the New York Jets’ opener will take place Thursday night against the New York Giants in the annual preseason Metlife Bowl. Although this won’t be the only time the Jets will see the Giants this year, as they play Big Blue in Week 10.
NFL teams use the preseason to develop their young players and to see who is worthy of keeping. It’s the best place for an unproven player to show his worth and find his way onto an NFL roster. You won’t see much of roster locks on the field, for the most part, especially veterans during the preseason
Sam Darnold is nowhere near veteran status yet, but he’s locked in as the Jets’ starting quarterback for the 2019 season. He flashed the ability to become the team’s franchise quarterback when he was ranked among the best quarterbacks in football over the final month of the season.
— PFF NY Jets (@PFF_Jets) February 12, 2019
That being said, how much playing time should the second-year quarterback get in the upcoming preseason?
There are advantages and disadvantages to playing him throughout the preseason.
As great as it would be to see the Jets beat the Giants in the preseason opener, it would feel a lot better to see them win when it counts; Week 10 of the regular season. As for utilizing Darnold and running their offense, the Jets should keep their cards to themselves.
There’s no point in having Darnold on the field for more than a few drives on Thursday. The Giants are the only team on the Jets’ preseason schedule that they will also meet in the regular season. If the Jets want to get Darnold some practice runs in the new offense, it should be during those weeks.
Coach Adam Gase knows what he has with Darnold as his quarterback. Outside of the dress rehearsal in the third week of the preseason, the Jets shouldn’t utilize him much. We all know what Darnold can do. He doesn’t need to play more than a quarter in Weeks 1-2, and no more than 2-3 quarters in Week 3. Period.
Imagine how foolish the Jets’ coaching staff would look if Darnold or any locked-in starter went down with an injury during a preseason game? The Jets should keep Darnold’s usage to a minimum.
It has been reported that newly acquired star running back Le’Veon Bell won’t be playing in the preseason opener. It’s clear Gase and the rest of the coaching staff want to play it safe. And that’s exactly how it should be.
Outside of the third week, Darnold shouldn’t be seeing the field much. The Jets should take the preseason to give Davis Webb and Luke Falk a chance to win the backup job from Trevor Siemian.
The Jets played Darnold too much in the preseason last year because they didn’t have enough quarterbacks on the roster. With four QB’s heading into the preseason, Darnold shouldn’t be seeing the field much. He’s got nothing to prove, and a whole lot to lose. Let him relax on the sidelines until September.