Rookie Sam Darnold has watched the last two games, both losses, from the sidelines as 39-year-old Josh McCown has tried unsuccessfully to jumpstart a Jets' offense that refuses to launch. But the onus is not necessarily on McCown as New York's offense averaged a paltry 11 points per game in Darnold's last three appearances under center. The highly touted rookie has tossed a league-high 14 interceptions in just nine games and fans are beginning to wonder aloud whether the kid that conjured images of Joe Willy in Week 1 is rapidly morphing into Mark Sanchez 2.0.
Growing pains in the NFL can be hard to watch but more than one successful quarterback has endured a raggedy rookie campaign only to forge a lengthy career. Furthermore, Darnold has been dealing with nagging injuries which can affect even the greatest signal callers; therefore, it is not unreasonable to consider that his performance has been adversely impacted as well. Premier sportsbooks such as Youwager are consistently dealing the Jets as underdogs even in front of their home crowd as they did last week when New England was installed as a whopping 13 point road favorite and still covered the number in their 27-13 victory.
The decision to throw a young talent, one that is supposedly the linchpin to a decade or more of success, directly into the fire when a veteran quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater was on the roster is now highly questionable. As we all know Bridgewater was sent packing, in addition to the Jets' 2019 sixth-round pick, to New Orleans in exchange for the Saints' 2019 third-rounder. We wouldn't mind having that trade back if meant that Darnold could study from the sidelines instead of getting battered on the field.
The Jets are now taking a cautious approach by sitting Darnold presumably for this week's tilt in Tennessee, which is kind of like taking the used car you just bought to the mechanic after you buy it and not before. Cautious would have been sitting him for the majority of the season and letting him soak in the nuances and speed of the game at the professional level. But that's all in the past and we can only hope that the kid's psyche and confidence have not been irreparably shattered. Head coach Todd Bowles had this to say about Darnold starting a meaningless game in a season barren of success.
"It would be good for him just to play. The more games he can play, the better off he'll be. Obviously, he has to get healthy first, and he has to practice and get back into a routine again, and we'll go from there. But it's important for him to get reps."
According to reviews one of the best online sportsbooks, Youwager, is once again installing the Jets as underdogs this week. Tennessee is laying 10 points against the visiting Jets which is a bit perplexing considering the Titans are not exactly an offensive juggernaut, averaging a paltry 17.7 points per game. Does that mean that the books believe the Jets won't even manage double digits? As bad as our boys have been, we’ve got to consider them a live road dog this week.
There are other decisions that will need to be made at season's end and it's highly unlikely Todd Bowles will see a fifth season as head coach. As the team enters Week 13, Bowles has a record of 5-17 during his tenure at the Jets' helm and with him so too will go offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. Bowles was quoted as saying that Bates "called a good game" against New England. The funny thing is the offense is so bad, maybe 13 points was the best one could expect against the Patriots from this group? Well, there is one silver lining – only four months until the NFL Draft.