Have the NY Jets made a mistake dumping Sam Darnold?

NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

That’s all she wrote, folks. The NY Jets have pulled the plug on Sam Darnold and are deciding to move on to presumably Zach Wilson for the 2021 season and beyond.

Will this decision come back to haunt the lowly Jets?

As you probably know by now, and if you don’t I’ll let you know, I am one of the most ardent Sam Darnold supporters on The Jet Press staff — to my detriment at times.

“Young Sammy” as I love to call him played a major part in me vying to join The Jet Press team. The Jets, to me, were a team on the rise with Darnold as their quarterback despite his evident flaws.

In my mind, this team was on its way to turning around and Darnold’s performance in 2019 was indicative of that.

As I’ve probably said a thousand times writing for this site, he managed a 7-6 record in 2019 with the worst offensive line in football, all of his receivers and other weapons injured, a pain in the neck for a head coach, one of the most dysfunctional organizations in the NFL, and the guy did it all after suffering mononucleosis in the early stages of that season.

Unfortunately, that momentum came to a screeching halt in 2020 and Darnold did not play well at all — as we all know.

The Jets failed him. They failed to develop him into the star he can be with the wealth of talent he has at his disposal. The turnovers did not seem like they would ever subside to Aaron Rodgers-level status, but that didn’t mean he could never become an elite quarterback.

Brett Favre was his comparison and a fantastic one at that. High turnover rate and high touchdown rate — some teams would love that ratio. I know the Jets would’ve taken it had it meant more touchdowns and (most importantly) more wins.

But even though the Jets failed him, Darnold did not do himself many favors on the field.

He overcame adversity in 2019 with the bevy of hindrances I mentioned before. He showed promise in his rookie season — the guy came out and beat Matthew Stafford on the road on Monday Night Football to open the season.

Ultimately, however, he just wasn’t consistent enough, and his turnovers did not get evened out as they would for a Brett Favre type of player.

I’m disappointed the Jets pulled the plug on Darnold because I felt he had a lot more to offer if he just got the right situation around him — Robert Saleh was a starting point for that.

However, I cannot sit here and say the Jets completely blew it because their hands were seemingly tied with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.

The NY Jets moved on from Sam Darnold to draft their new franchise QB

It appears to be Zach Wilson who the Jets will take at No. 2 and even though I cannot definitively say this is the 100 percent right move and Wilson is the clear choice over Darnold, this is the way the game works and this is the direction the Jets are well within their capacity to take at this time.

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I know a lot of Jet fans out there are stoked for Zach Wilson. I’m skeptical as one could imagine. If this were a debate between Trevor Lawrence and Sam Darnold, I’d have an easier time with the transition because Lawrence is going to step into the league and be a top-15 quarterback right out the gate.

With Wilson, I’m not so sure he’s even a better prospect than Darnold was coming out of USC.

Wilson certainly fits the prototype for what the quarterback position is turning into, and I say that in a positive way. But is he a surefire talent to dump the franchise quarterback you took just three years ago?

Is Darnold the Josh Rosen to Kyler Murray? I give Darnold a lot more credit than that.

Wilson to me fits what the QB position is becoming, but is his transition from BYU where he had his way with a BYU-level of competition schedule comparable to what Darnold brought to the table coming out of USC?

The answer there is probably no.

He’s got a pretty good arm, but his longer passes seem to lose a little life to them on the way down. This video illustrates it pretty well.

He can obviously move pretty well, but he’s a little over 200 pounds and built a little more slight than a body-comparable Lamar Jackson.

The Jets have a ton of problems as an organization. I don’t have to tell you that. Is Zach Wilson the guy who’s going to come in and be the overpowering driving force that turns it all around?

That remains to be seen, but as you can guess, I’m a little more pessimistic about it than others are.

So, my final take on the matter is that I’m going to miss Darnold. I wish the Jets stuck with him a little longer and didn’t pull the plug. They had every right to pull the plug, but I feel the better move would’ve been to build around him more because things were looking up.

Best of luck to Darnold in Carolina (I’m certainly rooting for him). The Jets are losing a “real one” as the kids say these days.

We’re on to Zach Wilson who will most likely be the next Jets quarterback. I kind of feel the cycle is now repeating and another quarterback is being thrown into the Jets machine to pin it all on when things don’t go well without addressing the core issues.

But even though I’m highly skeptical of Wilson and his ability to do what he’s going to be drafted to do, which is turn this franchise around, I’m extremely open to this next chapter of the Jets and excited to see how it goes every step of the way.

The Jets may have made a serious mistake. They may not have. Joe Douglas and the Jets front office obviously know more about football than I do.

Next. NY Jets make surprising 1st-round pick in 7-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

All that can be done now is move forward and continue to build. Let’s see it happen.