Manish Mehta of the Daily News believes Sam Darnold should be the New York Jets’ regular-season man, and sources on the inside appear to agree.
In a column posted on Tuesday evening, Mehta revealed that not only is highly touted rookie Sam Darnold set to see plenty of playing time this preseason, but that his sources inside Atlantic Health Jets Training Center believe those extended reps will extend to the regular season.
“There isn’t a soul in the organization that I’ve touched base with who believes that Darnold will look lost in the preseason,” Mehta declared in his write-up.
He goes on to describe the Jets’ preseason passing outlook will look similar to last season’s plans. While eventual starter Josh McCown, who returns this season was kept limited, Christian Hackenberg, the previous “chosen one” of Jets lore, took a majority of snaps, while Bryce Petty came in for opportunities in relief. Mehta expects a similar routine, but with new names.
“The team’s preseason quarterback blueprint will look like the 2017 plan if you substitute Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater for Hackenberg and Petty, according to sources,” he says.
But once the preseason is out of the way, however, Mehta continues to expand on his belief, based on inside information, that it will be Darnold under center for the team’s nationally televised Week 1 showdown with the Detroit Lions. He eschews the concept of learning from the bench and instead instills a belief in putting the rookie in immediately to learn NFL lessons from arguably the most optimal of locations: the field.
“The idea of learning by watching is a myth,” he says.
He goes on to explain that if Darnold is not named the Week 1 start, relegation to the scout team during the regular season will do nothing, arguing the Jets need to showcase their latest potential savior immediately.
“You’re not ‘rushing’ Darnold if he proves to the brain trust over the next month that he can be an NFL starter,” Mehta argues. “Darnold’s ability to quickly process information inside the building has given folks in the know the belief that anything is possible with this kid. However, he’ll only get exponentially better by applying those lessons on the field.”
Mehta does acknowledge that there could be growing pains, especially considering the fact that the Jets will open their season but play three games, two on the road, in 11 days. That, however, shouldn’t deter the Jets.
“The Jets shouldn’t overanalyze the situation. Although Darnold would have a daunting challenge playing his first three games in a span of 11 days (Lions, Dolphins, Browns), that’s no reason to hand him a clipboard,” he says.
He later adds “The early challenge will embolden him. Instead of worrying about the worst-case scenario, imagine if Darnold actually performs well during that compressed early portion of the schedule? Would it be a lot on his plate? Yes. But it doesn’t matter if you believe that he’s capable of handling this first big test. He’s not going to be scarred for life if he doesn’t perform well in those first three games. He’s mentally tough enough to handle it.”
The Jets open their preseason slate on Friday night against the Atlanta Falcons (7:30 p.m. ET, WCBS).