- Henri Frederic Amiel
It was frustrating losing another game the Jets should have won but the progress of Sam Darnold the last two weeks is something that we haven’t seen in a green and white uniform for years. The 4th quarter of the Bills game and the whole Texan game is the best that Darnold has been this year. Make no mistake the Jets have a long way to go to build a competitive franchise but the play of Darnold is appealing in numerous ways. But more on that later. After matching field goals and another by the Texans, Deshaun Watson (22-28, 294 yards, 2TDs) hit DeAndre Hopkins (10 rec.170 yards 2TDs) for a 45 yard touchdown pass. Hopkins killed the Jets all day. The other receiver Demaryius Thomas (6 rec.59 yards) also had a productive game. Thomas is a four time Pro-Bowler and one has to wonder that if Sam Darnold had the Texan receivers how would he have done? After another Texan field goal, Darnold went to work driving down the field with both his arm and legs and hit Robby Anderson for a 5 yard TD. The usual reliable Jason Myers missed the first of 2 extra points.
Continuing his magic in the second half, Darnold led the Jets on a 8 play 60-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Andre Roberts. The drive was a combination of runs and passes with a very nice reception to Robby Anderson for 20 yards being the most impressive. Darnold took the snap and rolled away from JJ Watt and found Anderson on the right sideline who went up and made a nice jump to catch the ball. We could have used the same effort late in the game on a jump from Anderson. After the Roberts TD reception, another missed extra point by Myers.
The only other score in the 3rd quarter was another field goal by the Texans. In the 4th quarter, the Jets began a drive that took up 7:33 and was 15 plays and went 75 yards. Sam Darnold and the Jets converted three 3rd down plays and one 4th down play. Sam was terrific. He passed, he ran and he was a leader. The best play was the 25 yard pass completion to Chris Herndon (3 rec. 53 yards). On that play Darnold felt immediate pressure and rolled to his right. He looked like he was going to run with the ball and 2 Texan defenders took the bait. Chris Herndon then made a veteran adjustment splitting the defense and improvised by running long. It was one of the best plays of the game. Unfortunately this was the last score by the Jets. The Texans moved the ball and quite easily going 70 yards on 7 plays in 2:45. The key play was a borderline 3rd down holding penalty on Morris Claiborne covering Hopkins. People I have spoken to tell me that should have never been called. I saw it as 50/50. It could have been called either way.
The Jets on their second to last possession had a chance but a pass to Robby Anderson that he had to jump high for with a player on his back was dropped. If Anderson wants to play in the Pro-Bowl, he has to make that catch. Unfortunately the Jet defense who played well at times but could not come up with the big stop when it counted. The 29-22 loss was tough to swallow but watching Sam Darnold play was fun. He does not run like Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson but like them he will have to learn the risk/reward of extending plays or just throwing the ball away. This week the great Eagle quarterback Carson Wentz was diagnosed with a fractured vertebrae. Sam Darnold will need to learn to pick and chose his time to run!
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Funding The Wall-Sam’s Wall
Sam Darnold will be a great quarterback as long as the Jets surround him with a quality offensive line. Going into the draft and free agency, this has to be the number one priority. In the draft some of the top names are: Jonah Williams, OT Alabama, Greg Little, OT Ole Miss, Trey Adams, OT Washington, David Edwards, OT Wisconsin, Michael Jordan OG/C, Ohio State, Hjalte Froholdt, OG/C Arkansas, Michael Deiter, OG Wisconsin. The Jets should draft anywhere from 2-5. This draft is loaded with pass rushers. Whoever is running the Jets draft should look to trade down and try to accumulate picks. The Jets do not have a #2 pick. They traded both #2 picks they had to move up for Darnold. The key to the Jets draft is both quality and quantity. Get as many quality draft picks as possible. We have our quarterback. Let’s accumulate picks.
For free agency, what I see as the top unrestricted free agents that I like: Trent Brown OT Patriots 26 years old, Daryl Williams OT Panthers, 27 years old. Matt Paradis C, Broncos 29 years old, Nick Easton G-C, Vikings 26 years old. With the free agents, you always want to pick young players. With Matt Paradis, though he is 29 years old and went on the injured reserve list, I would sign him. He is looking for a big payday and the Jets can front load a contract. Nick Easton is also on injured reserve and this is the second year he has been injured. This Harvard grad is a real worker who the Jets might get for a one year “show the league what you got” contract like they have done with Morris Claiborne. Remember with free agency, the status changes and teams can tender players or franchise them.
The last part of funding Sam’s wall would be to get the right offensive line coach under the new head coach. Seventy year old Dante Scarnecchia of the Patriots is the best in the business as far as I’m concerned. He has been given nobodies and has plugged them into the offensive line and Tom Brady continues to have a picnic in the pocket with all the time in the world. I’m not sure how this crafty veteran coach who has been on the Pats staff forever (Dick MacPherson, Bill Parcells, Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick) does it but I would offer him the moon to come to the Jets. In fact his son Steve is on the Falcon staff was one of the people cited in the Spygate scandal so it would tough to pry Dante Scarnecchia from the Pats. If not him, the Jets have to get a top notch offensive line coach who knows how to adjust during the game.
…..Sam Darnold now has 4 games with multiple pass TDs this season. Only Joe Namath (5 in 1965) has more among Jets rookie QBs……In the last 5 minutes of games, including last night, Jets have been outscored, 52-11. In last 3 seasons, they've been outscored, 146-68 (tie for worst), with a staggering minus-19 in turnovers…..Texans coach Bill O’Brien improved to 30-1 when leading at halftime…..Jets kicker Jason Myers now has 15 missed extra points since entering the league in 2015, the most in the NFL in that span.....The Jets lost despite holding a 10-minute time of possession advantage….Gang Green committed nine penalties…Jets activated all three quarterbacks for the first time this season. Davis Webb had been inactive for the 10 previous games that Sam Darnold started this year…..Drops, drops drops. Cannon, Andre Roberts and Anderson have got to catch the ball…..Some of the benefits of Sam Darnold's play is it will attract good coaching candidates as well as free agents.....Henry Anderson had 3 sacks. What a great pick up he was.....Chris Herndon has stardom written all over him.....Sack total are going up: Adams 3.5, Copeland 5, Anderson 6, Jenkins 7.....Green Rewind contributor Ray Clifford is right saying Sam's 3 games off was a blessing in disguise. All of a sudden the game has slowed down for him.....
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What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
The NFL announced that the 2019 salary cap is projected between $187 million and $191 million, a nice increase from the current $177.2 million. From the Jets' perspective, this is akin to passing "Go" and collecting more Monopoly money.
They figure to have $107 million in cap space, based on a $190 million ceiling, according to overthecap.com. That's a lot of loot -- only the Indianapolis Colts ($124 million) have more -- but it's a bit deceiving because the Jets have a league-low 29 players under contract. Nearly half the roster is headed to free agency, and that will eat into the cap surplus. The Jets can pick up more space by cutting veterans. For instance, they can create $21 million by cutting Kelvin Beachum, Spencer Long and Brian Winters, although I don't think it would be prudent to dump three starting offensive linemen. You should have some semblance of continuity….."He's a very calm and very confident man. His poise is powerful. He never talks about his situation; he just focuses on the next game. I think we can all learn something from him. You never see him sweat. He's comfortable being uncomfortable." -- Miles on how Bowles is handling life in the hot seat.
Brian Costello, NY Post
Jets fans had to be thrilled with the way Sam Darnold played against the Texans. He looked like he belonged. He made good decisions, plays with his feet and the game looked like it slowed down for him. Now the Jets must build around him. It was a stark contrast looking at what Deshaun Watson has around him and what Darnold does. Watson has an all-world wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. He has a good defense led by pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The running game was not on display on Saturday, but Lamar Miller is a good back when healthy.
At times, it felt as if Darnold were playing the Texans by himself. He seemed to be willing the Jets to first downs by scrambling or finding a receiver on third down. The Jets defense had some good moments, but the unit needs more impact players. The only one they have is Jamal Adams. The Jets’ lack of playmakers on offense has been well-documented. Robby Anderson and Darnold seem to be developing a connection. But you look at Hopkins and look at Anderson and realize what the Jets are missing. Finding a receiver will not be easy this offseason. Players like Hopkins are hard to find. It might require a trade to bring in a top-flight receiver.
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Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
Sam Darnold doesn’t change in a phone booth or leap tall buildings in single bound, but you get a sense that this guy is going to morph into a superhero one day. The Jets rookie quarterback displayed his special skills Saturday night in a 29-22 loss to the Texans, leaving little doubt that this dude is the real deal.
“He played phenomenally,” safety Jamal Adams said. “He’s a bad man.”
Darnold went 24-for-38 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and a handful of important scrambles against a formidable defense in his best performance of his rookie season. He flashed his mobility, instincts and savvy in a performance that should give Jets fans hope that they finally found the right guy at the most important position.
“He has a great future in this league,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said. “He is a competitor. He didn’t do anything tonight that surprised me, but I will say that his ability to keep plays alive, his ability to take a hit and keep coming, his ability to get the ball down the field… he is a great player.”