The verdict is still out on the No. 3 overall pick in the draft Sam Darnold. So far – maybe not so good – but definitely not bad. It's tough to pluck a fresh-faced rookie from college and expect his baptism by fire in the NFL to be seamless, particularly on rebuilding team like the Jets. However, Darnold has comported himself fairly well, although his three interceptions over his first pair of games give us cause for pause. New York's play calling has been wise in terms of executing a balanced attack and not putting too much of the offensive onus on Darnold.
As the Jets’ rookie QB heads into the Dawg Pound on Thursday night he has an 88.9 passer rating and has completed a solid 66.1 percent of his passes for a total of 532 yards and three touchdowns. After a dominating 48-17 victory on the road in Detroit, New York fell back to earth and so did their fans when Miami's defense suffocated their attack last week. The Jets dropped a 20-12 decision and is hoping to regain some of the mojo they felt after Week 1 with a win over the hapless Browns.
As we check out the Jets' chances for victory the best barometer we can find comes from the oddsmakers at Bookmaker, according to its review is an online sportsbook that sets the standard in the sports betting industry, who are dealing the Cleveland Browns as three-point favorites! Now, you don't have to be a mathlete to figure out that the Browns have won just once in 34 games yet are somehow favored against the Jets. Really, America? The betting public must believe that the Browns have gotten markedly better or the Jets have grown increasingly worse. Although the former might be true, we know that the latter is not. Darnold will not be the next Mark Sanchez and the Jets will ultimately win with the former USC product under center. The only question is, when?
As we take a look at this Thursday night showdown there are some areas of concern despite the fact that we believe the better team is playing the role of the underdog. Perhaps the most glaring issue is the Jets' offensive line and whether they will be able to contain a Cleveland pass rush that features a ferocious Myles Garrett in the trenches. Darnold must be cognizant of unloading the ball the moment he scans an open target. However, throwing the ball away when he doesn't is an option that he will have to accept as the lesser of two evils. Routinely tossing interceptions is a career killer but Darnold has the smarts to learn defensive schemes and will become more deft at figuring them out as he gains experience.
Although many pundits believe Thursday night is as good a time as any to take the clamps off of Darnold, it might be foolhardy to underestimate the Cleveland pass rush and their secondary. The Browns' linebacking corps is the weak spot and outlet passes to slot receivers for short yardage could very well open up the Jets' rushing attack. On the flipside of the ball, New York boasts a terrific run stop unit which will force Cleveland quarterback Tyrod Taylor to go to the air. Cleveland's Jarvis Landry burned the Jets last year as a member of the Dolphins last season and could pose a problem. However, we see this as more of defensive battle where special teams and field position will determine the winner.
In short, we like the Jets' chances and the three-point head start that major online sportsbooks like Bookmaker are giving us makes betting them even more enticing. The Jets don't want to break the Browns' string of futility and we don't believe they will. In Darnold, we trust on Thursday night!