Sam Darnold
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sam Darnold has every shot of starting for the New York Jets. Today, we dispell the insane myth that has rookies “sitting while learning.”

Aaron Rodgers did it. Steve Young did as well. Hell, even Brett Favre sat around and watched an elder statesman do his thing on the NFL gridiron while so tightly holding the playbook.

So it has to be true. NFL quarterbacks are simply built greater when they’re afforded the opportunity to watch from the sidelines for a year or two … or three.

Ask your friendly neighborhood New York Jets fan what he or she thinks. More times than not that tortured soul will come back with the same answer.


“Sam Darnold should initially sit and learn from either Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater.” This is what the average Jets fan will tell you.

Wrong. Incorrect. You couldn’t be more off the logic map if you had two months prep time to blow us away.

It’s not the fan’s fault. The Jets fan has been conditioned this way. For one, Darnold is the most precious of jewels they’ve seen in their lifetime. Not since Joe Namath has the organization employed such a rare, classic beast. No fan wants to see the asset mishandled in any fashion.

He must work out as that long-awaited savior.

Most importantly, however, Jets fans are suffering by way of recent history—history in the form of Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith.

Sanchez was that last great hope as a top 10 QB himself. While Geno didn’t go until the early second round, both arms were young quarterbacks who were thrust into action during each’s rookie campaign. Though many areas showcased tremendous promise, both failed miserably.

Sam Darnold
(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Therefore, the “right” approach is to allow Darnold to sit behind McCown or Teddy. After all, what’s the rush?

Well, first of all … the more experience Darnold rolls with, the more advanced he’ll become. Never has anybody proved that young quarterbacks sitting while learning helps development.

Who’s to say Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t be an even greater quarterback right now if he played his first three seasons?

The topic is fierce at the moment due to Darnold’s impressive play during the Jets preseason-opening 17-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

It was never about the stats. Forget the kid’s 13-for-18, one touchdown-no interception night. Forget the idea his yards per attempt bordered on the conservatively insane. What the city that wears green is so crazy about is just how polished the kid looked throughout.

He entered ready. He quickly arrived with the world watching looking every bit the professional as the nearly 40-year-old McCown. His touchdown pass proved it as the composure dripping from the righties raw passing talent allowed him to sense his surroundings and climb the pocket only to hit wide receiver Charles Johnson for Darnold’s third straight unofficial “first” preseason touchdown pass.

With the team in Virginia brawling it out with the Washington Redkins, the momentum has Darnold taking more first-team reps. It also has many believing he’ll receive the start this coming Thursday against the Skins.

Do it. Come on, Mikey Mac (Maccagnan). If Todd Bowles heads to Maccagnan’s office with the very word he believes Darnold should start, then, absolutely … Darnold should start.

Forget the nonsense that is Rodgers, Sanchez and Geno. Forget the idea that front offices and coaching staffs come together with long-term player development plans suited to mirror Major League Baseball.

It doesn’t happen that way.

This is the National Football League, the league Jerry Glanville once dubbed “Not For Long.” There’s no minor-league system. There’s no farm. There’s no luxury tax or soft cap. This is a league in which 32 rosters are extremely similar in talent. It’s a place in which coaching and front office structure usually tip the balances of such a parity-driven scale.

New York Jets

If Sam Darnold provides the Jets best chance to win football games at this very moment, then Sam Darnold will become the next starting quarterback of the New York Jets.

Playing immediately didn’t hurt Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas or John Elway. It didn’t even hurt the golden boy himself, Joe Namath (who started his rookie camapaign). Look at recent young gun-slingers such as Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck and so many more. From recent history to the dawn of the NFL, more quarterbacks have succeeded by playing the rookie season than those who didn’t.

This is the freaking NFL. The only thing holding Darnold back does is delay the inevitable of knowing whether or not he’s the real deal. If he accepts the challenge and rolls with the punches while getting better every day, he’s the Jets man. Shall he fold under the pressure like the cheapest of suits, then we know he belongs in the Sanchez/Smith category.

Affording the kid to sit a few games or a full season won’t stop anybody from reaching either one of those two certainties when eventually judging the draft pick. It also won’t help or hurt the prospect in either regard. If he’s the real deal, we find out relatively quickly.

It’s already obvious the kid is, by far, the most talented of the three quarterbacks on the roster. If Sam Darnold is ready for primetime, the New York Jets must insert him without any hesitation.

This is the NFL, folks. There is no farm system.

New York Jets

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