Perhaps one of the more overlooked team needs for the NY Jets is a backup quarterback. Here are a few ways in which the team can address the issue.
Heading into the offseason, the NY Jets’ team needs were quite clear. The team needed to completely rebuild the offensive line. The wide receiver position needed to be addressed as did the cornerback position.
There’s another position that needs to be addressed, however, that hasn’t received as much attention and that would be a backup quarterback.
Entering his third year in the NFL, Sam Darnold is still believed to be a franchise-type quarterback for the Jets despite an up-and-down start to his professional career.
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In other words, the Jets aren’t looking for a starting signal-caller to replace Darnold, but the team needs to add some depth behind him, especially when taking into account the fact that he’s missed time due to injury/illness in both of the previous two years.
Looking back, Darnold has played just 13 games in each of his first two seasons. During his rookie season in 2018, he missed three games with a foot injury and was replaced by veteran Josh McCown. Then in 2019, the 22-year-old once again missed three games after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
The situation proved to be worse for the Jets this past season, however, as Trevor Siemian initially replaced Darnold, though he too fell victim to injury. The Jets were then forced to start Luke Falk, who had never started a game prior.
Overall, the Jets are 0-6 in games Darnold has missed over the last two years, clearly proving that the team needs to acquire a competent backup should Darnold miss more time in 2020.
As of now, little has been made about which direction the Jets plan to go in regards to solving the need at backup quarterback.
With the offseason now fully underway and the 2020 NFL Draft fast approaching, however, let’s take a look at a few different options for the green and white to consider.
Next: 1. Matt Moore
1. Matt Moore
Currently a free agent, 35-year-old Matt Moore could represent a potential option for the Jets to consider as not only a backup quarterback but as a mentor of sorts to Darnold.
After coming out of Oregon State undrafted in 2007, Moore has put together a lengthy career in the professional ranks, spending four years with the Carolina Panthers and seven years with the Miami Dolphins before spending last season as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs where he went 1-1 as a starter.
On his career as a whole, Moore has started 32 games in which he’s compiled a .500 record. Throughout this time, he’s completed 60.1 percent of his passes with an 82.8 rating, while throwing for 49 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
According to reports, Moore is in no rush to sign on with a new team, but the Jets could actually be the perfect fit for him due to multiple reasons.
First off, Moore is familiar with Jets head coach Adam Gase, as the two spent time together in Miami when Gase served as the head coach of the Dolphins from 2016-18.
During their time together, Moore served a similar role to the one he would be serving in New York as a backup quarterback, but he obviously became familiar with Gase and his offensive system nonetheless.
In addition, Moore could provide exactly what the Jets are looking for. Last season, the Jets truly lacked experience behind Darnold, which is why the team had such an issue when the young quarterback went down early on in the season.
With Moore, however, that wouldn’t be an issue, as he not only has a wealth of overall experience, but he also has experience as a starter and experience with Gase as mentioned above.
Should Darnold once again miss time in 2020, Moore would likely feel comfortable sliding into the starting role and he’d serve as a competent option for the Jets to hold things over.
Next: 2. Joe Flacco
2. Joe Flacco
Like Moore, Joe Flacco could also be an option for the Jets as a veteran quarterback to provide insurance behind Darnold.
In addition, Flacco, who’s played at the highest level throughout his career, could also serve as a type of mentor to Darnold as McCown did during the quarterback’s rookie season.
After being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, Flacco spent 11 seasons with the organization before signing with the Denver Broncos prior to the 2019 campaign.
On his career as a whole, the 35-year-old has completed 61.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 218 touchdowns and 141 interceptions.
What likely appeals most about Flacco is his experience. Not only has he spent the majority of his career as a starter, but he also has playoff experience, as he led the Ravens to the postseason six times during his tenure in Baltimore while also leading the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2012.
He’s also known for his strong performance in the playoffs, as he holds a 10-5 playoff record, while also having the most road playoff wins by any quarterback with seven.
In addition, Flacco, like Moore, has a connection to the Jets, as he spent time with general manager Joe Douglas in Baltimore. In fact, Douglas was one of the executives who pushed the Ravens to draft Flacco in 2008.
One thing that has to be noted with Flacco, however, is that he does have health concerns, as he suffered a neck injury last year and was released by the Broncos due to a failed physical.
If he is healthy though, Flacco could provide with the Jets with an experienced option as a backup quarterback who could easily slide in if Darnold suffers an injury. He’s also the type of player who could aid in Darnold’s development moving forward.
Next: 3. 2020 NFL Draft
3. 2020 NFL Draft
Aside from free agency, the Jets could also look to the NFL Draft to add depth at the quarterback position, though this may be the least likely option for multiple reasons.
First off, the Jets simply have many areas that need to be addressed in the draft and obviously only so many selections to address those needs.
For example, the team still has work to do on the offensive line. The Jets are also expected to draft multiple receivers, while also needing to add more talent in the secondary.
However, the team does have two picks in Round 6 and could elect to use one of its last picks on a signal-caller to develop and add depth behind Darnold. And if this is a path the Jets do indeed decide to take, there would be options to choose from.
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According to WalterFootball.com’s 2020 NFL Draft quarterback rankings, there are numerous quarterbacks that are expected to either be drafted between rounds five and seven or even go undrafted.
To name a few, this list includes Hawaii’s Cole McDonald, Oregon State’s Jake Luton, and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke.
In 2019, McDonald completed 64 percent of his passes for 4,135 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Luton, meanwhile, completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,714 yards, 28 touchdowns, and three interceptions, while Lewerke completed 59 percent of his passes 3,079 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Again, adding a backup quarterback in the draft is probably the least likely option for the Jets and it would certainly be the riskiest given Darnold’s injury history and the fact that the selection would lack experience.
Simply put, the team shouldn’t be looking to develop a passer behind Darnold, but rather bring in someone who has the time under his belt.
But, it could be an option the Jets consider late in the draft if the void still needs to be filled.