New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold has a chance to “define” his legacy in Preseason Week No. 3 against those Giants. 

So you’re telling me that the third overall pick is going to “define his legacy” in a preseason game? Give me a break, Boy Green.

Well riddle me this, New York Jets fans: did Mark Sanchez, former No. 5 pick, “define his legacy” when he was injured in a meaningless Snoopy Bowl game back in 2013?

OK, well the Snoopy Bowl mishap was at least second on Sanchez’s list of all-time blunders, but the point is after that specific injury in that meaningless game, his Jets career was essentially over. Geno Smith took the reigns and the team went in a completely different direction.


Now in 2018, it looks like Sam Darnold is going to get the start for the Jets on Friday night and it could be the biggest moment of his career. It’s not hyperbole, it’s true. The job is his to lose.

Similar to Christian Hackenberg last season, Darnold has received every opportunity to take the job through the offseason and preseason and he hasn’t disappointed. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was giddy when talking about Darnold recently to the media (highlights via NJ.com):

  • “He’s owned the playbook.”
  • Bates said he marvels at “how easy the game is for him — both mentally and physically. We haven’t scaled back, offensively. We’re giving Sam the same amount of information and plays as Josh and Teddy — NFL veterans. He’s able to take the classroom knowledge and all the stuff we studied in the classroom and take it to the field and execute it.”
  • “He moves to the next play, for a young kid, unbelievably,” Bates said. “He doesn’t dwell on it. Nothing is too big for him. He’s everything you’re looking for in a young quarterback, as far as the ability to go out there, and the stage isn’t too big for him. When the lights come on, he gets better.”

New York Jets

Typically, you see coaching staffs downplay rookies and their accomplishments. Not Sam Darnold. The hype is real and now it’s time to put the money where the mouth is.

The third preseason game is the most vital. That is weird typically we see starters play well into the third quarter. Although, the expectation is that Darnold will play the entirety of the first half on Friday night while Bridgewater is scheduled to play the entire second half (same gameplan that was executed with the Washington Redskins).

The Jets are in a position clearly they aren’t used too. Neither are the fans for that matter. So let me help clarify the Jets’ quarterback situation.

Darnold is starting Week 1 for the green and white on the road, at Detroit, on Monday Night Football. (In channeling my inner Paul Heyman, that statement I just made isn’t an opinion. It’s a spoiler alert.)

So because Darnold is the starter from now until he retires, there’s no point in keeping Teddy Bridgewater. I’m not saying sell the guy off for a half-eaten Snickers bar, but you have to get something for him while you can. The elephant in the room is Teddy’s contract, which only lasts one year.

If the Jets don’t trade him now, they’ll lose him for nothing in free agency in 2019. They likely won’t even get a compensatory pick for him because that formula is based on how much money you spend versus the players you lose and their new deals with their new teams.

So with all of that being considered, let’s bring this thing full circle …

The Jets have an insurance policy if anything goes wrong (injury or uncharacteristic terrible play) with Darnold. But if Sam plays his cards right, he balls out on Friday night, the Jets trade-off Bridgewater to the highest bidder, and to the victor goes the spoils.

The New York Jets are truly in for the very first time, a win-win scenario in which a young top 10 quarterback has one serious opportunity to begin to define his NFL career at the Snoopy Bowl.

New York Jets

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