The Jets finally got it right with Sam Darnold
Updated: Sep 22, 2019
Sunday, Oct. 13, Joe Namath and the 1968 Jets were honored at Metlife Stadium on the 50th anniversary of the franchise's last championship. The future looked bright as rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, the Jets highest drafted quarterback since Namath in 1965, threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns in the 42-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Throw it back to the April, when the Jets traded with the Colts to move up to the number three overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The objective was to finally draft a franchise quarterback. The Jets would not expect that their man from USC would be there at three. But when the Browns shocked everyone and took Baker Mayfield first overall, Jet fans knew they couldn't screw this one up.
After journeyman Josh Mccowan lead the Jets to a 5-11 record in 2017, the Jets knew the 39-year-old wasn't the future answer to the franchise. In free agency before the draft, the Jets were prepared to make Kirk Cousins the highest-paid QB ever. Their backup plan was sign Teddy Bridgewater, who was traded to New Orleans in training camp and re-sign Josh Mccowan. They still knew drafting a QB would be the direction they must head in.
Who can forget Rex Ryan trading for Tim Tebow in 2012, one year after Tebow's magical season in Denver. Since 2009 the Jets drafted five quarterbacks. They drafted Mark Sanchez out of USC fifth overall in 2009. After Sanchez led the Jets to AFC championship game berths in 2009 and 2010, it only went downhill from there. The Jets had to replace their once future face of the franchise.
The Jets followed up Sanchez's "butt fumble" by drafting Geno Smith in 2013 in the second round. In 2014 Bryce Petty was taken in the fourth round, and in 2016 Christian Hackenberg was selected in the second round.
None of those picks panned out for the Jets. Geno Smith was a backup by 2016 after a locker room brawl sidelined him and Ryan Fitzpatrick stole his job and lead the Jets to a 10-6 2016 season. Petty started seven games before being released in 2018, and Hackenberg was released after one season and never once saw the field.
On opening night Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions, Darnold started off his first NFL drive with an interception. Jets fans had confidence with the third overall pick, but the sense that they got it wrong started to come again. That would not be the case, he threw for 2 touchdowns in the 48-17 rout. There was a silent confidence among the Jets that they knew this time they got their man.
Interceptions are a part of Darnold's game. In his freshman year at USC in 2016, he threw nine interceptions in 13 games. In 2017 he threw 13 interceptions in 14 games. With that being said, in his two years at USC he threw for a total of 7229 yards and 57 touchdowns.
Things got scary for the Jets after the Monday night rout in Detroit. The Jets lost three in a row to the Dolphins, Browns, and Jaguars. Darnold had a total of 2 touchdown passes in the three games. The Jets looked lost.
The Jets responded well to the losing streak with two wins at home against Denver and Indianapolis. Darnold combined for five touchdown passes in the two games. Darnold is currently 20th in the NFL passing rankings. That is above Russel Wilson, Alex Smith, Dak Prescott, and Cam Newton.
The Jets now sit at 3-3 on the season with Kirk Cousins coming to town on Sunday, Oct. 22. They have a difficult schedule with the entire NFC North to play along with their own division, the AFC East. Jets fans should believe that this year the Jets will be playing meaningful games in December, which many considered a rebuilding year.
The Jets finally have the franchise quarterback to build around. For a team once notoriously known for Rex Ryan's antics and the butt fumble, the Jets might become the number one team in New York for the first time since 1968.