New York Jets: Why Starting Sam Darnold is the Right Choice

Since 2000, the New York Jets have embarked on a journey of embarrassment and mediocrity, and it has not been pretty. From the disappearance of Chad Pennington to the shell of Brett Favre making his mark; from the butt-fumble to selecting Christian Hackenberg in the second round, finding quality quarterback play has seemed unattainable for so long. Finally, it looks like things are about to change. After selecting Sam Darnold with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the excitement began to brew. He has since exceeded expectations in practice and the preseason and has been named the starter. This decision has garnered some criticism, as some fans are apprehensive, scarred by past New York Jets experiences. It is only a matter of time until they are proven wrong. Here is why Sam Darnold is the right choice to start week one for the New York Jets.

The Trade (Part 1)

The Darnold-Jets rumors started to heat up after March 17th, when Mike Maccagnon traded with Indianapolis for the third pick in the draft. The trade ended up sending the Jets’ 2018 first and second round picks, along with a 2019 second, for Indy’s selection. Obviously, this is a large investment, which means a few things. Sam Darnold needs to be the franchise quarterback. The New York Media will be quick to turn volatile against management, criticising the decision. The pressure is on for Darnold to start and to perform at a high level. He’s an agent of hope that could turn the city around, or find himself among the plethora of Jets football failures. Starting Sam Darnold immediately eases off the media scrutiny and gives the fans what they want. In turn, this makes the situation easier for the rookie, which is a goal of theirs anyway.

The Trade (Part 2)

Additionally, the New York Jets have made the necessary moves to pave the way for Sam Darnold to start. The New Orleans Saints traded their 2019 third round pick for 25-year-old passer Teddy Bridgewater. “Teddy Two Gloves” was amazing in the preseason and Darnold’s only true competition. Now that he is out of town, the only way the Jets can claim to be a winning team is if they let the kid play. If Darnold looks like the future (he does) and gives them the best chance to win (he does) then there is no reason not to start him. Once again, starting Sam Darnold was the right choice.

Josh McCown Is 39… and Bad

Going back to the Jets clearing the way for Darnold, they brought back Josh McCown on a one year deal. This is for McCown to act as a backup like he has for practically his entire career, and to guide the rookie as a QB Coach. McCown has graciously taken Darnold under his wing, eventually surrendering the starting job. Even if it was a true competition, Darnold would have easily won the job. McCown does not have the arm talent, improvisation skills, or poise to be a competitive NFL starter. His days as a starter are over and it’s for the better. Anyone telling you Josh McCown is a better player than Sam Darnold is lying to you.

What Would Darnold Learn

One possibility was that Darnold would redshirt a year, sitting behind McCown. My question is, what exactly would he learn while riding the pine? Unequivocally, there is a massive learning curve that comes with being an NFL quarterback. However, there is not much one can pick up. Arm talent, athleticism, and instincts can’t be taught. Mechanics don’t successfully change often and don’t matter much if accuracy is not hindered. Decision-making skills and processing speed come with increased reps and increasing assignments. Also, why can’t he learn these things while playing? While improvements can certainly be made and players often develop, sitting behind a veteran does not provide much aid. If the rookie gives you the best chance to win, you play him; simple as that.

No Proof

Another hole in the “sit behind a veteran” argument is the lack of proof that it actually works. Sure, Aaron Rodgers sat behind a Hall of Famer and turned out better than his predecessor, but it’s a rare occurrence. Deshaun Watson sat for one half of a football game. Carson Wentz started week one. If the players are talented enough to succeed, the one redshirt year will not make or break them. Raw prospects, like Wentz, often benefit from real game experience more than anything else. To put it simply, don’t believe the myth that sitting behind a veteran passer actually does anything.

Game Experience

As was previously stated, game experience is the biggest difference maker for a young quarterback. Having to adjust to NFL defenses and the ups and downs of a game develops talent quicker than watching film could even attempt to. Starting Sam Darnold allows him to gain that necessary experience and improve his game faster than having rookie issues as a sophomore. Let him face that Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Watch the kid get hit and jump right back up. Endure the mistakes and the boneheaded turnovers and revel when he leads a clutch game-winning drive. With game experience comes mistakes, successes, and eventually, progress.

It’s Been 50 Years Since the Jets Won the Super Bowl

The drought, assuming the Jets will not take home the Lombardi trophy this year, will turn a half-century old this winter. Gang Green needs to win something soon for a loyal fan base that has done nothing but stirs in sadness for what seems like forever. Sam Darnold is the closest this organization has gotten to a franchise quarterback since Joe Namath and they need to capitalize upon that. Setting him up for success is paramount, and starting him week one does exactly that. The young core is there. The quarterback is there. Finish off the rebuild with an awesome offseason and watch this team prosper behind Darnold. Let Sam Darnold win this team a super bowl.

The Future is Now

It is a new era of New York Jets football, and Sam Darnold is at the helm. “New Jack City” is ready to rise. Tom Brady won’t be up north forever, and once that happens, it will be the green and white running that division. Start Sam Darnold and give this team an identity. Give him the keys to the brand new car and watch him drive this team forward. Sam Darnold is the quarterback of the New York Jets and thankfully, the Jets know that.

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