Many have already eliminated the New York Jets from their playoff discussions. Sam Darnold, possibly nearing a return, isn’t among them.
“We’re going to go out there in practice and guys are going to refresh in this bye week and we’re going to go on a little run here,” Darnold said, per transcripts provided by the Jets. “It’s going to be fun, but it’s going to take a lot of work. But, I know a lot of the guys on the team are willing to put in that work.”
There’s been no official word on Darnold’s future status, but signs are slowly pointing toward him starting the Jets’ return to action in Philadelphia on Oct. 6. Head coach Adam Gase was superstitious, remarking “everything looks really good, (but) I just don’t want to get ahead of myself and say, ‘yes,’ and then all of a sudden there’s kind of some weird setback that I don’t know about.”
Nonetheless, another clue came in the Jets’ Monday transaction. Earlier in the day, the Jets released quarterback David Fales to add receiver Vyncint Smith. Fales served as the backup quarterback to Luke Falk in Sunday’s loss in New England. With the release, Falk is the only active quarterback on the roster.
Perhaps enough has been said, both medically and satirically, about Darnold’s absence, induced by mononucleosis. When the illness was announced, he set a goal of returning for the Jets’ post-bye week visit to Lincoln Financial Field.
The potential setback, per Darnold, is his enlarged spleen, which Gase said was the biggest problem last week. Cardio will be a vital factor over whether he can partake in the battle against the Eagles in two weeks.
“It’s just my spleen right now isn’t where it needs to be in terms of coming back full-go. It did go down a little bit,” Darnold said. “The size of it did shrink a little bit and so, now, I’m able to do some light cardio…Hopefully, throughout this week, it gets a little bit lower and I think the next test we’re going to do is Monday, next Monday.”
At 0-3, playoff odds are obviously not in the Jets’ favor. Only five teams have reached the postseason after losing their first trio, the last being the 1998 Buffalo Bills. You’d never know it from Darnold’s Monday statements.
Missing games for the second straight season, the waiting is, once again, the hardest part for the young quarterback.
“It’s disappointing that I’m not able to go out there and help the team as much as I can. It (stinks) watching too, from the couch.”
Incubated no longer, Darnold is ready to get the Jets back on track. He even acknowledged that the mental rehabilitation around the team may be even tougher, but potentially more fulfilling, than the physical toll he’s taken.
“I’m just going to go in there and control what I can control. Obviously, we just need to fix some details at other spots as well. We’re not blind to that,” he said. “So, it’s just about going out there and going out at practice and in the meeting rooms and walk-throughs, being able to fix all that stuff and not being shy about it either. Not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, it’s about getting this stuff right and we’re going to get it right.
“It’s just a matter of time.”