The New York Jets were probably hoping for many things to happen when the 2018 preseason started. But one thing held importance over everything else—the quarterback position. They’ve been without a franchise quarterback for years. Rather than put all their eggs in one basket, the draft, they brought a promising young free agent in as well.
Two weeks into the preseason, it is starting to appear as if Jets head coach Todd Bowles has somewhat of a QB conundrum on his hands. They began the preseason knowing they had at least one decent quarterback on the roster, 39-year old Josh McCown. However, at his age, he is a place holder at best.
But with the preseason now two weeks in, it appears that they may have two potential franchise quarterbacks on their hands. There is former USC quarterback Sam Darnold that they traded up to the No. 3 spot in the draft to make sure they could take him. Then there is also former first-round pick, Teddy Bridgewater.
Heading into the preseason, they had no idea what their prized rookie would be like right out of the gate. Transitioning from the college game to the NFL can be tough. If they can avoid doing so, most teams prefer not to start rookie quarterbacks. Then again, many teams have in recent years with great success.Could that be the case with Darnold? Or could be live up to the hype and play so well he wins Offensive Rookie of the Year honors? His odds, according to Betway, are currently 14-1 (as of August 19).
Bridgewater was probably more of a safety net then anything else. They had to do something in the position due McCown's age. Drafting someone was the obvious choice, but if the rookie fails to develop, they’d still be without a franchise QB.
They needed a plan B—hence, signing Teddy Bridgewater. He was cleared to play last year after blowing out his knee prior to the start of the 2016 season. But the Minnesota Vikings were happy with what they were getting from Case Keenum at the time. So, he sat on the bench and entered free agency without ever getting the chance to prove whether he could still play.
Finding out whether he could became Plan B for the Jets. If he does get the job, he'll be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year for sure. His odds are a little long right now since it’s a very crowded field this year at 33-1.
While it has only been two games, the Jets have to like what they've seen. They probably wish there was a clear-cut front runner between the two. But if there was a problem every NFL team would love to have, it's figuring out which of their two starter-quality quarterbacks to play.
So—who do they start? What’s the answer to their QB conundrum?
The two have had solid performances in each of the preseason games so far. Darnold was 13-18 for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons in Week One. Bridgewater completed seven of eight passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Against the Redskins, Bridgewater led the way by completing ten of 15 passes for 127 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Darnold was 8-11 for 62 yards and an interception.
Both have shown they can make the tough decisions while playing; the ones where they don't advance the ball, but they don't go backwards. Both have shown the ability to hit their receivers. However, while Bridgewater is a little more comfortable pushing the ball downfield, Darnold has primarily played it safe with shorter throws.
But he's a rookie; you expect him to do that—for now.
The Jets have been talking like they'd be open to starting Darnold in Week One. But they haven't really discussed possibly going with Bridgewater instead. While Darnold may be ready to go, the better of the two at the moment is Bridgewater.
So, do you go with your rookie that is good enough or do you go with the better player? If it was just a matter of winning games this season, it would be an easy question to answer. But they are looking for someone to be the QB of the future. They want someone to hold down the job for years to come; not just this season.
They may very well say no to both and go with Josh McCown if they feel he gives them the best chance to win now. Bowles has said the decision is not going to be an easy one. Perhaps he'll get more clarity after the third preseason game.