Sam Darnold
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is perfectly confident in leaning on “trust” in his official return to NFL action.

Robby Sabo

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Nobody wants to die. (At least, the overwhelming majority of humans walking Earth fall into this category.) It’s a thought detailing inevitability that’s quite simply impossible to escape. Nevertheless, when analyzed, there are always more comfortable wishes.

The thought of lying in bed at 100 years old, surrounded by loved ones and consuming a last meal tickles the fancy. It certainly beats other alternatives, for life is full of possibility. It’s why the masses always favor the option of young and poor over old and rich.

Luckily, for a California kid making a living in Florham Park, NJ, he enjoys the best of both worlds.

The young and rich kid doesn’t have to participate in the young and poor vs. old and rich game. He didn’t even have to consider the thought of a serious health setback placing a sudden halt to his world.


He really didn’t have to think about it until a month ago.

Sam Darnold’s mononucleosis put a cramp on not only his life, but the entire New York Jets organization, and both parties want the best for all involved. Considering the risk involved with the mono-riddled spleen, it’s tough to identify the right answer.

All No. 14 can do right now is rely on “trust.”

“Yeah, I’m not worried about that,” Darnold responded when asked if he’s worried about a potential injury. “When I’m out there playing, I’m not worried about guys hitting me or anything. I’m trusting the guys up front to do their thing. I’m trusting the receivers to go out and get open when it’s time to pass the ball.”

The big factor, other than receiving full medical clearance from team doctors, is the rib-protection extension specifically used to protect his spleen.

“For me, it’s all about trust,” Darnold proclaimed. “When I do get hit, I know that I’m not in danger anymore. They’re letting me go out there and play because it’s safe, so I’m not worried about that.”

X-Tech provided him with the extra gear. The Jets sophomore gunslinger made it clear how unrestrictive the extra weight feels while throwing.

New York Jets

“No, it hasn’t been restrictive at all and the equipment staff has done a really good job with that, making sure that I can still play the way that I usually play with all the padding on,” Darnold said.

Darnold, 22, officially returns to action this Sunday when the tough Dallas Cowboys invade MetLife Stadium for Week 6 action. He’s missed the last three contests, all Jets losses. Fortunately, the team enjoyed history’s most-timely early bye, allowing their young quarterback a free week of recovery.

For some, throwing the kid back into action so quickly is a risk far too rich. The Jets offensive line has looked beyond horrific. Against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, they relented 10 sacks. Granted, Luke Falk’s silent countdown didn’t ring alarm bells at times, prompting coverage sacks to commence, but this five-man unit not only picked up where it left off a year ago, it’s seemingly worsened.

The idea of trust behind such a questionable offensive line brings fantastical thoughts. How could anybody trust such a thing?

On face value, Darnold does, especially center Ryan Kalil.

“I think Ryan’s obviously a huge component in that (O-line chemistry), but I think the whole offensive line is a mature group and they know what we got to do to win the game,” Darnold said. “They’re focused on cleaning up some of the details, like I’ve been mentioning and if we just do that I think we’ll be fine.”

The Jets O-line leads the league in sacks allowed with an outstanding 23. It also ranks 30th in rushing yards per game (66).

The diehard football mind understands Darnold’s uncoachable traits will immediately boost a tired personnel base on the offensive side of the ball. I mean, if you didn’t think the O-line and weaponry were stale a year ago, Darnold’s absence has surely changed your mind by now.

It’s his sixth sense in the pocket, mobility and throw-on-the-run ability that helps cover up for so many personnel ills, and he’ll find a way to help that area again starting Sunday.

On the other hand, all it takes is one nasty hit from a scary pass-rushing group to change the entire narrative.

In the end, this is the NFL. This is football. It’s a place that needs performers and production while the suits in the front office can decide on futures. The Jets need to know what they have in the kid, and, fortunately, the kid can’t wait to strap on the helmet.

“I was just pumped to be able to go out there and play Sunday,” Darnold said. “It’s just, when you’re out that long, you realize how awesome the game is because you miss it so much. For me, it was just excitement.”

A big-time passion for the game and a trust-level in those who surround the kid is the current Sam Darnold program while returning to NFL action. Perhaps it’s exactly what the Adam Gase era needed to return to competitive football.

If not, an entire fanbase shudders to think what lies ahead.



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