The New York Jets are tanking next season and many people have connected the dots to USC quarterback Sam Darnold.
“Suck for Sam” is what they’re calling it. This is the idea that a prospective team will do whatever it takes to suck as badly as possible to put them in the best position to take the player that they want in the following NFL Draft.
The New York Jets wouldn’t be the first team to adopt this methodology.
- ‘Suck for Luck’
- ‘Crap for Cam’
It’s happened time after time. Although sucking at the right time isn’t always the right formula. The Jets know better than anyone. It takes two to tango.
That’s right. Back on Mar. 5, 1997, Peyton Manning announced he’d be returning for his Senior season at Tennessee.
It sent this room of Vols fans into jubilation and Manning became a living legend. While in another part of the country, Jets fans were crying in the fetal position which is, unfortunately, a very familiar routine.
The Jets were coming off of a 1-15 season and would’ve undoubtedly taken Peyton Manning with the No. 1 pick instead of Keyshawn Johnson.
You hear those “N “if” L” videos all the time. Consider how it would’ve changed the landscape of the Jets franchise. Manning won two Super Bowls, albeit it with different teams, but Peyton to the Jets would have changed everything.
Bill Parcells was hired and the Jets improved to 9-7 and then 12-4 the following year. In 1999, the Jets were in the Super Bowl conversation until Vinny Testaverde went down early in Week 1.
The Jets eventually flipped Keyshawn Johnson for two future ones plus their original, plus the Bill Belichick situation and the Jets ended up with four first round picks in that 2000 NFL Draft.
Of course, the Jets would move on and drafted Chad Pennington and he would be their guy (when healthy). But all of that could’ve changed if Manning decided to forgo his senior season, as his father predicted he would.
Of cours, that didn’t happen and the Jets continued in their quarterback purgatory in the fiery pits of hell … but I digress. So now fast-forward into the 21st century and the Jets are potentially in another familiar scenario.
Enter Sam Darnold
Reports surfaced a few weeks ago that people close to Darnold said “hold the horses on the #SuckForSam campaign” because the all-star quarterback was leaning towards staying in college another couple of years.
Naturally, this sent Jets fans across the country into a tizzy. But how was this story really breaking news?
Nothing changed. Those were “sources,” unconfirmed reports that a quarterback may or may not stay at college with no real certainty.
To be perfectly honest, I was surprised it made so much noise. Then Darnold addressed all the rumors and speculation with these comments earlier this week:
“I’m really just taking it one year at a time honestly,” Darnold said via NFL.com. “That’s my mindset.”
So in essence, who knows what’s going to happen? Back in the late 1990s, it was reported that Manning said he was leaving the Volunteers, and guess what happened? He changed his mind.
Darnold is 20-years-old as of this Summer. Kids change their minds and that’s exactly what this guy is, a kid. Darnold is uncomfortable with the fact a team would dedicate an entire season to tanking for his services. Can you blame him?
The Jets have one of, if not, the worst roster in the NFL. Before they do a ritual animal sacrifice, they might want to start putting some pieces around him. Although that’s the ultimate game of chicken — what truly does come first?
The Indianapolis Colts sucked at just the right time for Andrew Luck who was, ironically enough, handed the torch by none other than Peyton Manning.
What’s the next step?
Don’t put all your green eggs and ham in one basket is what I’m saying. Next year’s class, on paper, is at least three-deep at the most important position in football.
The Jets are a near 100 percent lock to take a quarterback in the first round next year regardless of what happens. Will Todd Bowles be the head of the ship still?
Woody Johnson through his history doesn’t do the lame duck head coach number. Which means one way or another we’ll know the fate of Bowles. Whether that is his pink slip or contract extension.
But that decision is in a year. Let’s talk about the present. The Jets shouldn’t “Suck for Sam.” Darnold has played in 13 career games. Has he looked impressive in spurts? Sure he has, but so has countless amounts of other players and then flopped.
Vince Young was the Offensive Rookie of the Year and then teams figured him out. Colin Kaepernick took the league by storm and then teams figured him out. Hell, Robert Griffin the third was another superstar in the making, but never panned out.
If you want to keep this conversation to the transition to the pros, look at Tim Tebow,. Ryan Leaf. It goes on and on. If playing quarterback was who could throw the ball and hit the target, we’d have hundreds of quarterbacks in the league, but we all know it’s more than that.
You have to be the first guy in and the last guy out. You have to study tape and do all the right things when the camera is on and when it’s off. There’s a lot of pressure in being a starting quarterback, let alone a franchise one.
Is Darnold the next insert successful quarterback? I’m not going to pretend to know because no one does. No smoke will be blown up your skivvies from this guy. I can assure you of that.
So can we please stop this “Suck for Sam” nonsense? I know as Jets fans we all want to huddle in the bomb shelter and come out next season and see what’s left of the carnage, but there’s still a lot to be decided.
Namely, Darnold’s encore performance which will tell us all whether he’s truly ready for the next level.