Sam Darnold knows what it's like to be on the sidelines and out of the action. Not by choice, mind you, but due primarily to an injury to his right foot that gave the third-overall pick in the draft a taste of what it's like to hold a clipboard and watch another do the very thing that has made him the latest football messiah in Gotham. After a three-game layoff, all Jets' losses, Darnold was back and the results were markedly different as New York bested their intrastate and divisional rival from Buffalo by the score of 27-23.
Those that wagered on the Jets were rewarded for their faith in Gang Green as they not only covered as four-point road underdogs but also cashed on the money line as well. Speaking of bettors, Sportsbook Review has a list of the best online sportsbooks where you can read, for example, the BetOnline review which details everything from their customer service to timely payouts and the intuitive dashboard of one of the premier sportsbooks in the industry.
Darnold wasn't great but unlike Buffalo's rookie first-round blue chipper Josh Allen, he wasn't reckless. And perhaps that's even more important than the stat sheet because although the Jets have seemingly landed themselves a fine, young quarterback it should be noted that a gun needs bullets in order to fire. Until New York's brass surrounds him with a few hotshot targets on his flanks and bulldozers in front of him, Darnold will be tested with employing restraint in the face of adversity as opposed to creating offense where there is none. When the dust settled Darnold had passed for merely 170 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Pedestrian numbers but far better than the pair of picks and one lost fumble by Allen which proved to be the difference between winning and losing in Week 14.
Sunday's effort was in stark contrast to their performance less than a month ago when the Bills routed the Jets 41-10 in East Rutherford. Josh McCown had his hands on the dials of the offense in that one yet it was the Jets defense that was missing in action on November 11th. But on Sunday the defense came to play and Josh Allen paid a price for his fleet feet by being harassed all afternoon long, sacked thrice, and hit a total of 10 times on the afternoon. Allen is a big man who scrambles well for his size but that facet of his game was virtually eliminated in the second half when New York adjusted its defense and held the former Wyoming product to only 14 yards rushing in the final two quarters.
The Jets sit in the cellar of the AFC East with no chance of seeing postseason daylight. Many believe Darnold could have used this year as a student on the sidelines as opposed to getting an education under fire. If New York's front office knew that they would likely end the season with the same or perhaps even a worse record than last season, there is little doubt that Darnold would have been more of a spectator than a participant. Had the coaching staff chosen a more prudent route for the rookie he would most certainly be healthier and with no lingering foot issues hanging over his head. That would have been a much more desirable course of action, at least for his immediate future, and perhaps even in the long term.
However, football is a business and Darnold on the field translates to fannies in the seats. Darnold missed a series on Sunday after sustaining another injury to his foot but subsequently trotted, or should we say limped, back on the field to get back under center. The kid is alright and New York did a nice job in trading up to get him into a Jets' uniform. But patience is a virtue and it seems to most that Darnold would have been better off being groomed as an understudy than thrust into the role as a leading man. Either way, it's time for management to get a supporting cast for their matinee idol.