Sam the man – baptism by fire

Admin - October 2, 2018

After a grand total of four games in his professional career, Sam Darnold is getting not so rave reviews from the armchair quarterbacks and even a few of those who should know better. The shop talk is that the Jets should have stayed put at No. 6 instead of trading up to get Darnold at No. 3 which meant that New York could have saved their sixth, 37th, and 49th picks in the 2018 draft, plus the Jets’ 2019 second-rounder from going to Indianapolis. The assets that general manager Mike Maccagnan traded to move up three spots is certainly open for debate, particularly because New York is not a team on the precipice of greatness but rather one that’s on the cusp of mediocrity.

However, it has been demonstrated time and time again that winning in the NFL starts with the man under center. But every great rider needs at least a decent horse underneath him in order to cross the finish line before all the others. As of this moment, we are not certain whether Darnold is Laffit Pincay or a fairground jockey but this much we do know, the young man is not getting adequate protection from his offensive line. Without time to scan the field, Darnold will be far more concerned with self-preservation than striving for championship salvation.

The Jacksonville defense was a test we knew Darnold had little chance of passing, and we said as much last week in this column. But before we get too carried away let's also understand that there were four rookie quarterbacks, including Darnold, that started last week and all four were on the losing end of their respective games. The long and short is that Darnold is the man until the bitter end for New York but if Sam the Man continues to post disappointing numbers then it is fair to say that trading away Teddy Bridgewater was a reckless move. Had Teddy B been in the line of fire, and not Darnold, the rookie could have been learning from the sidelines instead of learning on the firing line and developing bad habits. We've seen it before when rookies are called upon to do extraordinary things surrounded by ordinary people. Let’s hope Darnold doesn't turn into one of them.

Moving on to next week we see that the NFL odds board, which can be seen over at Sportsbook Review, is tagging the Jets as two-point home favorites against the Denver Broncos in Week 5. It was just about 10 months ago that these two teams met at Mile High and the Broncos claimed a 23-0 victory over Gang Green.

After busting out of the blocks in Week 1 when New York blasted the Lions in Motown by the score of 48-17, the Jets have come to a screeching halt offensively. Over their last three games, New York has averaged slightly over 13 points per game and Sam Darnold has looked bewildered at times and frazzled at others. Unfortunately, a not so friendly guest will arrive on Sunday afternoon by the name of Von Miller and it could be another long afternoon against another tough defense as it was in Week 4 against the Jaguars. What could exacerbate the problem for Darnold is hearing it from his own fans after every errant throw or, God forbid, interception.

But before we say Darnold is a bust and the sky is falling in the Big Apple let's consider a few trends that are working in New York's favor if you're a betting man or woman. The Jets are 6-0-1 ATS (Against the Spread) in their last seven games in October, 7-1 ATS in their last eight games after accumulating less than 250 total yards in their previous game, and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 home games. Although hope is diminishing for a winning season with each subsequent loss, let's give the kid a chance because his protection certainly isn't.