New York Jets fans have no fear – Sam Darnold’s here! With all the backlash the team has faced over the timing of firing general manager Mike Maccagnan, Darnold remains the beacon of hope out of Florham Park, NJ. He enters year two without his mentor and backup Josh McCown (UFA), as he has been replaced with former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian. As Siemian is the presumed backup, behind him follow Davis Webb and Luke Falk battling for the third-string job. On that note, let’s kick off our 2019 New York Jets Preview series with a look at who will be in the Jets quarterback room in 2019.
2019 New York Jets Preview: Quarterbacks
The Starter: Sam Darnold
As previously mentioned, Darnold’s anticipated breakout season drives the Jets playoff aspirations. The expectations originate from a string of strong performances over the final month upon returning from an ankle injury. Darnold totaled six touchdown passes to only two turnovers, along with 931 passing yards against stingy defenses of the Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots. His out of pocket playmaking ability was on full display despite the limited healthy weapons around him. With that being said, it only made people wonder what Darnold was capable of with healthy, talented weapons and an offensive-minded head coach?
This season we will find out. The off-season kicked off with the Jets hiring Adam Gase as their head coach, fresh out of Miami. Gase comes with plenty of experience with all types of quarterbacks, from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning. First, he brought in veteran slot receiver Jamison Crowder over from Washington. Crowder will be 26 this season, averaging 746.6 yards receiving when fully healthy with Kirk Cousins at quarterback from 2015-17. However, the biggest fish Maccagnan reeled in is halfback Le’Veon Bell. Bell’s ability to make plays whether running or receiving gives Darnold an elite option as a go-to guy when plays fall apart. Darnold should be in line for a breakout season in 2019.
That is if he can limit the turnovers. Ever since taking over as the starting quarterback at USC his freshman year, Darnold has struggled with turning the ball over. This was a major factor in his inconsistent start to his rookie season. Outside of that final month, Darnold threw only 11 touchdown passes to 14 interceptions, with an additional four fumbles.
All in all, if Darnold is able to limit his turnovers, the sky is the limit as to what he is able to do in his second season
The Backup: Trevor Siemian
The former seventh-round pick showed he can be a decent starting quarterback during his time in Denver. With a 13-11 record over 2016-17 as the starter, Siemian was not one to elevate the play of the guys around him but was a solid player who often dealt with similar turnover issues as Darnold at times. Siemian may not have the experience McCown has, he does give a better chance to win.
The Bubble: Davis Webb and Luke Falk
The third-string battle is an interesting one. Webb, a former 2017 third-round pick by the Giants, is a raw prospect who does have potentially elite tools. While Falk is a former 2018 sixth-round pick by the Titans, he is a smart player that is not very mobile and has a small frame despite being 6’4″. This presents an argument between does Gase prefer a developmental prospect with a high ceiling (Webb) or a safe bet with leadership and smart playmaking ability (Falk). Whichever route the team ultimately takes, both present promising options and the winner of the battle will likely be on the roster day one.
The Bottom Line
While the third string battle will be entertaining, and Siemian as the backup is a good move, the Jets 2019 season rides on the performance of second-year starter Sam Darnold.
Stay tuned for the next article in the 2019 New York Jets Preview series with halfbacks!