NY Jets: Sam Darnold dubbed the most important player in the AFC East

NY Jets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold was recently dubbed the most important player in the AFC East.

NY Jets‘ quarterback Sam Darnold has been put through the figurative wringer through his first two NFL seasons.

From having to deal with two different nagging injuries, a bout with mononucleosis, and arguably the worst supporting cast in the NFL, few young quarterbacks have had it tougher than No. 14.

But through it all, Darnold’s potential has shined through and if his team could only get him a little help, there’s hope that he could still reach his NFL ceiling. The time is ticking, however.

And for that reason, he remains one of the players who will be receiving the most attention this season. And as Pro Football Focus recently put it, Darnold is the most important player in the entire AFC East.

The most important player in the AFC East in 2020 is __________ pic.twitter.com/RDG7rm0NnO

— PFF (@PFF) May 27, 2020

While the analysts discussed the idea of giving that honor to Miami Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa, they ultimately decided to name the 23-year-old Darnold as the division’s most important player.

What exactly does that mean? Well, that’s up to the listener to determine, I suppose.

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What does this title mean for the NY Jets’ quarterback?

Clearly this isn’t referring to the best player in the division. That honor could very well go to superstar safety Jamal Adams or one of a number of other standouts on the rosters of the Jets’ rivals.

And it isn’t even referring to the most valuable player, a title the analysts later gave to Tagovailoa. Instead, I interpret it as much more of a “make-or-break” honor.

With time running out on Darnold’s rookie contract, the Jets will need to see their young quarterback perform at a level that shows that he deserves an extension in the near future.

He should be able to do that and we all know he has it in him. The question is, will his team be able to provide any assistance?

The Jets completely remade both their offensive line and their receiving corps in the offseason, but “new” doesn’t always equate to “improved.” The team will need both position groups to not only show improvement, but to show significant growth through the season.

Perhaps even more important will be how Adam Gase opts to run the offense in his second full season as the Jets’ head coach. Gase’s scheming and play-calling in 2019 were, in a word, underwhelming.

The Jets will need Gase to maximize his talent more effectively — particularly in regards to Darnold.

It’s hard to argue that Darnold isn’t one of the most important players in not only his division but the entire NFL. His success or lack thereof in 2020 could determine whether the Jets are a run-of-the-mill sub-.500 team again, or if they are legitimate playoff contenders.

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There’s a lot riding on Sam Darnold in 2020. Let’s just hope his teammates and coaching staff could lend a helping hand.