Jeremy Bates Sam Darnold Todd Bowles
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Jets actually simplifying the Jeremy Bates offense to cater towards young Sam Darnold is beyond counterproductive.

Robby Sabo

Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and Rex Ryan—these are the names popping up as the New York Jets ready themselves to take on the defensively-nasty Jacksonville Jaguars.

While there’s very little doubt the two mentioned high-round busts resemble the Jets current young gun by way of talent, the way Todd Bowles is handling the development of the youngster brings horrid memories to the table. After a terrific showing in Week 1 in Detroit, Sam Darnold has allowed Sanchez and Geno to creep into the minds of everybody who root on the Jets.

What gives? It’s early, no doubt, by why the sudden 180-degree turn?

On Friday, a report from Josina Anderson of ESPN suggests the organization is at odds as it relates to handling young Darnold.

“There seems to be an internal debate with how he’s being coached, specifically the approach with offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.”

According to Anderson, some in the organization want Bates to simplify the offense. If true, those who crave this would be unintentionally holding Darnold back in the worst of ways.

This is a sad and terrifying report. If anything, Bates needs to give Darnold more freedom.

Forget coddling the kid. In this league, the NFL of 2018, pre-snap judgment by way of the quarterback means everything and right now, Darnold has zero freedom to change plays.

In Cleveland last Thursday night, the New York Jets ran 61 total offensive plays. Twenty of those plays were rushes into a loaded Browns box (eight or more players).

In addition, New York threw the ball a whopping 17 times into a two-deep look. This means 47 of the 61 total plays were tough pre-snap situation plays. Only 14 times was Darnold afforded the opportunity to throw against a single-high look or run the ball into a lighter box.

This is not putting a young quarterback in a position to be successful and has everything to do with the Jets sticking with the play called in the huddle.

  • Run into Loaded Box: 19
  • Pass into two-deep: 3
  • Run into Loaded Box (Short-Yardage): 1
  • Pass into two-deep (3rd-&-Long or Desperation): 14

Due to the fact the Jets offense runs what’s called in the huddle, rarely is Darnold afforded the ability to take advantage of a single-high safety on a deep shot to Robby Anderson or call a run on a 3rd-and-3 if the defense lightens the box.

Some of this has been lit on fire since Bates admitted technical difficulties with his headset on Thursday after practice. An example of simplifying the offense would have Darnod wear a wristband with numbered plays. This would allow Bates to get the play in quicker to the huddle.

Come on, folks. This aspect matters very little. This also isn’t high school or the Air Raid madness of the Big 12. This is the National Football League.

Sam Darnold
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

If a numbered system actually helps the Jets see the light in terms of allowing Darnold to adjust the play pre-snap after looking at the defense, then go for it. Short of that, this talk is meaningless.

Under Todd Bowles, conservatism is the name of the rotten game. As that defensive-minded sideline boss, he over-preaches ball security while running an extremely conservative attack that forces the defense and special teams to win the game.

This was a tremendous idea during the 1980s. In today’s NFL, it’s about aggression.

Todd Pederson’s guts in Super Bowl 52 exemplify the aggressive attitude perfectly. Even with Nick Foles, a QB whose struggles after one splendid season mirror those of a youngster, Pederson didn’t blink. He remained aggressive while never forcing his quarterback to blink.

Under Bowles, Darnold is suddenly overthinking things while overthinking the turnover. He’s afraid to let it go.

The only wild card in the building is the offensive line. Just how much of a factor is the offensive line in the mind of Bates?

Against the Browns, everything was short. An incredible number of screen passes were called while Darnold only assumed a handful of five-to-seven-step drops until the final two desperation drives of the game. Is this strategy due to Todd Bowles defensive mindset, the rookie at quarterback, the porous offensive line, or all three factors combined?

Whatever the answer, the formula is too extreme. There needs to be more gray area and freedom to develop.

A year ago, John Morton was the offensive coordinator and Josh McCown flourished. We all came to find out the building wasn’t in love with Morton. Obviously, Bowles is the boss, so he led that charge. Is Bates simply towing the Bowles company line by way of a defensive-minded effort? If so, Darnold’s progression as a professional is in doubt.

Forget simplifying the offense. What the New York Jets must do is allow Sam Darnold the freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage. Until that happens, the young QB will be presented with a severe handicap.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]