We live in a microwave society where everything wants things done yesterday. But some things take time.
The Jets’ decision at quarterback for 2021 is one of those. Everyone wants to know whether Jets general manager Joe Douglas will stick with Sam Darnold or draft a quarterback at No. 2 or trade back and take a quarterback later or sign a veteran quarterback or maybe move Jamison Crowder to quarterback after Sunday’s touchdown throw.
But the answer to the great Jets quarterback debate of ’21 is going to take months to decide, so settle in. There are so many factors that are impossible to decipher right now. Yes, Douglas surely has formed an opinion on Darnold after watching him up close for the past 18 months. Darnold has plenty of tape after 37 career starts and Douglas has been the GM for 24 of those games.
Still, that does not mean that Darnold is any less confounding to Douglas than he is to fans. Surely, Douglas wonders what Darnold might look like with elite wide receivers, a top-notch offensive line and a better offensive scheme. It is a projection that everyone who watches the Jets tries to make. Is Darnold being dragged down by those around him or is he incapable of elevating them? And Douglas is not going to show his cards. Why would he? If he wants to trade Darnold, he needs to keep his trade value high.
Then, the biggest wild card in this whole decision comes into play. Who is the head coach going to be? Adam Gase will almost certainly be fired after Sunday’s finale in New England. Then, Douglas must set out to find the next head coach. That coach is going to have major say over who he wants at quarterback. Will it be a coach who evaluated Darnold in the 2018 draft and loved him, like many did? Or will be one who has faced Darnold, seen his deficiencies and wants to start over?
Just remember this about NFL coaches. They all think they can fix players. So, the Jets could hire a coach who looks at Darnold and believes the struggles were about Gase or about Darnold playing with starting receivers this year at times such as Jaleel Scott, Lawrence Cager, Jeff Smith, Chris Hogan and Braxton Berrios.
The easiest path for Douglas, of course, would have been if the Jets ended up with the No. 1 pick and he could just hand in the draft card with Trevor Lawrence’s name on it. Now, if he opts against keeping Darnold, he must figure out if Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or Trey Lance are worth taking No. 2 overall. If not, then Douglas must decide whether he can get a bounty for the No. 2 pick or is better off staying there and taking a non-quarterback.
Typically, quarterbacks rise through the pre-draft process. Remember, Kyler Murray was not expected to go No. 1 overall in 2019 until rumors started about Arizona taking him in late February/early March. The Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones at No. 6 was a surprise. Justin Herbert’s stock rose last year to make him a top-10 pick. So, maybe one of these quarterbacks will gain some momentum over the next few months to where the Jets decide he is their guy or that they can get a trove of draft picks from someone else who needs a quarterback.
But none of this will happen anytime soon. We don’t even know what the NFL Scouting Combine will look like this year or if schools will be able to have pro days. Scouts have not been allowed on campus this fall. This is going to be a very different draft process than what NFL teams are used to.
We are going to be speculating, pontificating and evaluating this decision for the next four months. You may want this to be a microwave decision, but it feels like this is one Douglas is going to have to throw in the slow cooker.
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