Ray Clifford, Ralph Sharaga and myself have spilt or even thrown a lot of beers at each other discussing the Jets over the years. Here is Ray and my take on starting or not starting Sam Darnold.
Sit Sam by Ray Clifford
Being a Jets fan is tough and tends to make us impatient. Especially when our neighbors have been enjoying almost two decades of unparalleled success. We appear to have finally found our franchise quarterback we have been desperately seeking. But if I could convince Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles of one thing it would be to pump the brakes and let the kid sit for a little while before throwing him out there. You can't exorcise the ghosts of Dan Marino's (non)draft, Richie Kotite (drafting Kyle Brady over Sapp) and The Butt Fumble overnight. Yes, Darnold has looked very good thus far in three PRESEASON games. But, if you are honest, he hasn't even been our best qb thus far. Teddy Bridgewater has been outstanding and if not McCown, then he should be our starter on opening day.
I am a fan of Maccagnan and think he's made mostly solid moves and drafts. People will immediately point to Hackenberg, which to me was the only blip on his radar, so I give him a mulligan. But if there's an area he hasn't addressed well, it is the OL and that to me is the strongest reason to let him sit. Do we really want our prized pupil being protected by what appears to be a mediocre OL? I am a believer that we start Josh or Teddy and see how things go, and see how the OL comes together. If the Jets are struggling and the line is a leaky faucet, leave him on the bench to learn and, for once, focus your draft and FA signings on shoring up the OL. Face it, the Jets are NOT winning the Super Bowl this year. We don't want this to be a sprint, we want a marathon. The key to long term success begins at both lines and moves out from there. A good qb can make a line better, but a good line and make a good qb great.
Play Sam By Marty Schupak
When I was young NFL teams with a new regime would have a five year plan to get their team on the right track. Newly drafted quarterbacks would almost automatically stand on the sidelines with a clipboard for at least a year. Those days are long gone. With the cutting down of draft rounds and the addition of free agency, teams can now turn around in the course of a couple of years. In fact the 1998 St. Louis Rams went from 4-12 to Super Bowl Champs in 1999. Sam Darnold is the real deal and should start from day one. The Jets offensive line is not like the one the Cowboys had when Dak Prescott was a rookie. However, despite the fact that Mike Maccagnan has not addressed the offensive line like most Jet fans would like, Sam Darnold is one of those players that makes everyone around him better. Also one of the things I learned from sports is that you can never play scared. The Jets line is not great but it is not the 2002 and 2003 Houston Texan line that put talented QB David Carr in a position to fail and just about ruin his career. Whenever Sam Darnold starts there will be growing pains that come from learning on the job. He will have his games with 3 or 4 interceptions and a couple of fumbles but this is what happens to rookie quarterbacks. I agree that the Jets probably will not go to the Super Bowl this year but with the big salary cap available for next year, now is the time to get Sam his needed repetitions. Of course no one has a bubble that will prevent injuries but I have confidence in the Jet hierarchy that Mike Maccagnan and Jeremy Bates will only do what is best for the Jets franchise and Sam Darnold. On Monday September 10, Sam Darnold should and will be the starter.
See Sam Pass! See Sam Run! See Sam Win!
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….Jets fans need not worry about Darnold throwing long. Jeremy Bates is not showing all his cards in pre-season. He will be connecting to Robby Anderson in stride for touchdowns soon….Years ago I saw Oakland Raider DE Ike Lassiter manhandle Jets tackle Sam Walton in an embarrassing way. Friday I thought I was seeing a repeat performance with Jets LT Brent Qvale getting beat on every play. Even when starter Kelvin Beachum comes back, the Jets need help there with depth….Not talked about a lot but 29 year old Bilal Powell seems to have a lot of tread left on his tires…..Even without his dropped punts, nothing yet impresses me about Trenton Cannon…..Why can’t I get any update on rookie CB Parry Nickerson and his injury…..Quincy Enunwa is back…..Linebackers Darron Lee and Avery Williamson both showed up to play…..Morris Claiborne is better off not worrying about what nickname to call the Jets secondary and concentrate on not letting players get behind him…..If Christian Hackenberg is Mike Maccagnan’s biggest mistake than DB Rashard Robinson is a close second. Reminds me of the Yankees Greg Bird…..I don’t even want to hear the name of the Jets kicker until the season starts…..Good to see Terrelle Pryor catch a TD pass. We need more of that….The Jets new partnership with Def Jam Recordings is the news I’ve been waiting for 50 years. Haven’t slept a wink since the announcement was made….The Jets have signed quarterback John Wolford (from Wake Forest) and have waived/injured wide receiver/kick returner Lucky Whitehead. Wonder who will be getting the bulk of the reps in junk time in the 4th exhibition game….Former Broncos, Jets, Titans and Patriots WR Eric Decker announces his retirement. He had a hell of a run in Denver.
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What the Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
If the Jets trade Bridgewater for anything less than a third-round pick, it will show they're more concerned with the future than the present -- and getting his $5 million salary off the books. Yes, Darnold's development is of utmost importance, but the No. 1 objective is to win games. Keeping Bridgewater gives them the best chance to win. Frankly, Bridgewater has outplayed Darnold in the preseason, but he hasn't been given a fair shot to win the job. In the first three games, he got only one series with the starters and received only 16 percent of the first-team reps in training camp, far less than Josh McCown (43 percent) and Darnold (41 percent). Once Darnold fell into their lap on draft day, the Jets put Bridgewater in the "trade bait" category. Well, the trade bait has exceeded expectations, playing the way he did before his knee injury, but he won't be the starter because the powers-that-be seem to have settled on Darnold. Is money a factor? Bridgewater earns $250,000 for every game he plays at least 50 percent of the snaps, so you're talking an extra $2 million in bonus money if he starts half the season. You'd like to believe the Jets wouldn't sit him because of money, but they would because of his potential trade value. They'll stash him on the bench, hoping another team loses its starter.The organization is enthralled by Darnold -- and I get it -- but it would be a mistake if its Sam-crush results in a drastic decision on Bridgewater, who should be no worse than the No. 2 quarterback. That would make McCown the highest-paid third stringer in the league ($10 million), but he'd have value as a quasi-quarterbacks coach. All told, the Jets are scheduled to pay $21.5 million to the three quarterbacks, which isn't outrageous -- it ranks 19th, to be exact. Ultimately, the goal should be to field the best roster possible -- and it should include Bridgewater.
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Danish Mehta, NY Daily News
Sam Darnold is so money… and he doesn’t even know it. Ok, maybe he does. But he’ll certainly never say what everyone was thinking after the Jets’ 22-16 preseason loss to the Giants on Friday night:
He’s got the goods. Darnold had the audacity to suck all the drama out of the Jets’ quarterback competition with a performance that validated everything that folks on One Jets Drive have believed for months.Ok, maybe he does.But he’ll certainly never say what everyone was thinking after the Jets’ 22-16 preseason loss to the Giants on Friday night. He’s got the goods. Darnold had the audacity to suck all the drama out of the Jets’ quarterback competition with a performance that validated everything that folks on One Jets Drive have believed for months…..
…..Darnold’s off-schedule brilliance isn’t changing anytime soon. He seems to operate better when the picture gets cloudy. Right now, the picture couldn’t be any clearer: Sam Darnold has earned the right to lead this team in Week 1.
Brian Costello, NY Post
Quincy Enunwa had not been on a football field in a game situation since Jan. 1, 2017, when he walked into MetLife Stadium on Friday night. The Jets wide receiver missed last season after neck surgery and missed the first two preseason games this year with a thumb injury. But Enunwa returned to action against the Giants and caught two passes for 28 yards. He moved around fine and showed no signs of rust.
“They really wanted to get me out there and get me ready for the season, and I took it in stride,” Enunwa said. “It was fun and it’s always great to be back out there. It was a little exhausting at first. It’s football. Your adrenaline’s rushing. It’s not like practice anymore, so I’m going to be exerting a little bit more energy. But I had fun. I made plays when I needed to. I really wanted to go back out in the second half, so it was good.”
Coach Todd Bowles said he was happy with what he saw from Enunwa.
“He looked quick,” Bowles said. “I know he caught some balls. I’ll have to watch the tape and see about the blocking and everything else, but I was happy to have him out there. He had a smile on his face and he was having fun, so that was good to see.”
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…..By Brian Miller: If the Miami Dolphins are banking on Ryan Tannehill for the entire 2018 season, they better hope their gamble pays off because if it doesn’t, the back-up situation in Miami is not a good one. After three pre-season games we can say that the combination of David Fales, Brock Osweiler, and Bryce Petty has not proven to be something you would want to rest your season on. One of those three will be the back-up quarterback to Ryan Tannehill and so far that is not a good thing….On Loss To Ravens: Two of Miami’s starting defensive lineman came up with sacks. Jordan Phillips and Robert Quinn both took down Griffin during the opening half. Quinn now has three sacks during the preseason…..Miami’s run defense continues to be an area of concern. Baltimore ran for 223 yards on 42 carries, a 5.3 yards per run average. That’s a step down from the 5.1 yards per carry Miami was surrendering coming into this game, which was already second-worst in the league.Kiko Alonso, T.J. McDonald and Jordan Lucas all tied for the team lead in tackles with 7 apiece, and all three came away with a tackle for loss.
New England Patriots
…..Near the end of the first half of Friday's 25-14 loss at Carolina, lifetime cornerback Jason McCourty took his first snaps at safety ever. Then halftime hit, he left, returned to the field and dropped back again for the Panthers' initial drives of the third quarter. Turns out, the position change was almost as sudden for McCourty as it was for viewers. It wasn't until just days earlier he learned he'd be switching to safety for certain practice periods during the week. Before Friday, McCourty had only taken a handful of safety snaps in practice at Rutgers and kicked the idea around last year in Cleveland. Never once did he have the conversation in New England…..Friday night’s preseason matchup between the Patriots and Panthers was a bit of a snooze fest, but one player has reason to hold his head up high after New England’s 25-14 loss to Carolina: wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett’s stat line looks a bit meager. He caught just four passes on four targets for 36 yards, but quarterback Tom Brady showed trust in Dorsett at one of the game’s biggest moments…..It hasn’t been all bad for New England Patriots wide receiver Eric Decker, though it might look that way from watching him in the preseason. Decker signed with the Patriots three weeks ago and has struggled with drops and mental errors in training camp and preseason games. He was flagged for a false start Friday night in the Patriots’ 25-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers and caught just 2-of-5 targets from backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. He’s dropped a pass in each of his last two preseason games.....Decker just announced his retirement two hours ago.....
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…..Bills linebacker Keenan Robinson has retired from the NFL. On Thursday, Robinson came to the conclusion that he no longer has what it takes to play in the NFL and said goodbye to his teammates, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The Bills subsequently placed him on the reserve/retired list…..Bills discuss adding another QB. The Buffalo Bills might have no choice but to make a move.With A.J. McCarron suffering a shoulder injury over the weekend, that leaves Buffalo fairly thin at an already thin position…..AJ McCarron‘s injury was not as serious as originally thought. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Bills quarterback did not suffer a fracture in his collarbone, as was reported following the team’s preseason game on Friday. While McCarron was expected to miss “several weeks,” NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the quarterback is now day-to-day.