Sam Darnold
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Jets head coach is ready to completely free Sam Darnold in 2019. Meanwhile, Jamison Crowder heads for the dreaded MRI.

Robby Sabo

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—No matter the play, despite how impressive the throw, something just didn’t feel right as it pertained to Sam Darnold’s rookie campaign.

It had nothing to do with the rookie. Instead, it was a lack of trust in him. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates simply didn’t allow the kid to operate with freedom at the line of scrimmage.

From Week 1 through Week 17, the New York Jets young arm took the play call from the huddle and carried it out despite the look of the defense. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Unfortunately, no quarterback can win in today’s NFL landscape in such an untrustworthy fashion. Defensive coordinators easily pick-up play-calling habits, forcing offenses to routinely run into a loaded eight-man box or throw into a two-deep look. Darnold faced this handicap quite frequently in 2018.

Suddenly, everything looks brighter, as evidenced by Adam Gase’s words after practice on Monday.

“Oh yeah, that’s where it gets real fun,” Gase said in response to whether or not he’ll allow Darnold to change plays at the line of scrimmage. “We’ll make sure we notate which ones he changes (joking).”

As far as Darnold’s play on the practice field was concerned, an average performance was put forth. He hit Jamison Crowder down the middle of the field for a 40-plus yard score early in teams, but didn’t tear it up the rest of the way.

Jamison Crowder Limps Off

Midway through practice, the Jets slot man limped off the field with one of his cleats in-hand. It appeared to be an ankle injury as he strolled into the team facilities.

Gase ran down the injuries and eventually called Crowder’s situation a “foot” and confirmed he’ll be put through proper protocol, including an MRI.

“Couple of things, Ryan Griffin wasn’t in practice today,” Gase said. “He had an issue with his throat from the day before. He got that cleared up so he’ll be able to roll when we get back out there. Jeff Smith had a hamstring, Jeremy Clark, hamstring, Montrel Meander, hamstring and then (Jamison) Crowder had a foot.

“Yeah, all the things you have to do,” Gase confirmed in response to the Crowder MRI question. “All the things I don’t understand.”

Gase's Familiar Offense

Everything about Adam Gase’s offense screamed familiarity on Monday. The offense’s timely short-passing game shined through in a variety of ways.

Wide receiver screens, running back screens and three-step drops ruled the early part of team sessions.

As far as the ground game was concerned, Gase’s zone-rushing style was easy to identify. Inside zones and stretches to Le’Veon Bell and others highlighted the morning. Even the zone-read quarterback action (that suggests Darnold will have a couple of opportunities a game to keep the edge honest) presented itself.

Hines Ward's First Day

Pittsburgh Steelers great Hines Ward started his Jets coaching journey in Florham Park, NJ on Monday. He was spotted banging the group early, working on ball security at the point of contact.

Other News & Notes

  • Brett Qvale will be out for an extended period of time, Gase confirmed. He won’t need surgery, but is expected to miss extended time.
  • Undrafted free agent Greg Dortch continues to impress. Although he was smacked down pretty hard by safety Santos Ramirez, he caught an out from the inside for 20-plus yards in teams and continues to be worked into the punt-returning rotation.
  • Trevor Siemian and Deontay Burnett hooked up for perhaps the nicest offensive play of the day. Siemian laid a nice one out down the left sideline and Burnett went up, outside shoulder on the fade, and hauled it in for a score.

The Jets won’t hit the field on Tuesday, but will be back at it Wednesday morning.

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]