Sam Darnold
Given the poor start to his career, Sam Darnold needs a change of scenery. (Bill Kostroun /AP)

Sam Darnold has not lived up to expectations and the Jets have the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft. Potential franchise quarterbacks Justin Fields and Zach Wilson are intriguing options. A generational tackle prospect in Penei Sewell can shore up a mediocre offensive line. Even trading for Deshaun Watson has been speculated.

This Jets team lacks much talent, therefore, trading down and acquiring more picks is an appealing choice too. New York has a dilemma in terms of what they should do with the pick but first must decide if Sam Darnold is their quarterback of the future.

The 3rd pick in the 2018 draft has had ups and downs to start his career. He has flashed the talent that made him such a high pick, but the production has been far from consistent. In his best season, 2019, he barely eclipsed 3,000 passing yards and threw 13 picks. Darnold has simply been inaccurate and shows poor anticipation.

The amount of passes that have been deemed on target this past season is 32nd among 35 qualified quarterbacks at a lowly 71.8% beating out the likes of Drew Lock, Dwyane Haskins, and Carson Wentz. All the aforementioned quarterbacks will likely not be starters come 2021. Some point out Darnold’s lack of weapons when assessing his play, but that has not been a major issue.

The percent of Darnold’s passes that have been dropped is the 11th lowest in the league at 4.1%. In his career, Darnold has had talent around the offense in Robby Anderson, Le’Veon Bell, and Jamison Crowder. 

Dealing with pressure in the pocket has also not been one of Darnold’s strong suits. At time Darnold has looked like a fish out of water trying to gauge the pocket breaking down while keeping his eyes downfield. In 2020, Darnold had an average time of 2.4 seconds in the pocket, tied for 17th most in the league.

From this stat, we can gauge that New York’s offensive line was average in terms of pass protection and it cannot be entirely blamed for the offensive shortcomings. Darnold is just unable to feel pressure and escape it, no quarterback in 2020 was sacked at a higher rate than Darnold. Averaging nearly 3 sacks a game with an average offensive line puts no blame on anyone but Darnold.

The numbers are not there and Darnold has looked lost on the field, but he has not been given a fair shot at being an NFL quarterback. Management and player issues were prevalent since Darnold has joined the team. The head coaching shift from Todd Bowles to Adam Gase has made Darnold learn two offensive systems, and a lack of consistency at GM does not help either.

The addition of Robert Saleh will make him the third head coach in Darnold’s four-year career. The management and personnel issues mean New York should start fresh, acquire a new quarterback and release Darnold.

Potential trade suitors include Washington, Chicago, and Carolina. While San Francisco would be a solid landing spot, they have reportedly lost interest in trading for Darnold. While unimpressive thus far, other teams should not give up on the young quarterback considering the Jets have hindered his potential.