new york jets adam gase sam darnold
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New York Jets head coach Adam Gase, who’s certainly on his way out, is by his quarterback’s side, now and in the future.

It’s a tough spot to be in if you’re Adam Gase or Sam Darnold. You probably thought things would’ve worked by now and the team would be portraying even a glimpse of success. But ahead of the regular-season finale, the New York Jets are 2-13 and far out of playoff contention with the No. 2 overall draft pick on lock.

Gase doesn’t exactly need to support his current quarterback’s future with the organization, given his own near future. Regardless, he’s backing the third-year player anyway, just days prior to the team’s Week 17 matchup with the division-rival Patriots.

The 2019 eight-game stretch Gase is referring to is the one in which Darnold completed 61% of his throws for 1,947 yards (243.4 yards per game), 13 touchdowns, and four picks. The Jets went 6-2 over the last half of that campaign to finish 7-9, providing fans with hope that things would ultimately be different in 2020.

That’s been anything but the case though. The struggles, the ineptitude, and the losing are all present in East Rutherford with a disgraceful 2020 regular season nearing its conclusion.

We don’t know where Gase will end up in 2021, but we know it won’t be anywhere in Florham Park. Nevertheless, this all bodes the lingering question: what does Darnold’s future look like?

With the Jets out of contention for the No. 1 pick, they’re most certainly not going to be the winners of the Trevor Lawrence Sweepstakes, but does that mean they’re going to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields or BYU quarterback Zach Wilson?

Not necessarily, given the significant drop-off between Lawrence and Fields/Wilson. The Clemson standout is known to be a sure thing at quarterback while the alternative pair of options aren’t. This means the Jets could look towards further building that offensive line, which would likely lead them to Oregon tackle Penei Sewell. The soon-to-be rookie could man the right side of the line while 2020 first-round selection Mekhi Becton remains at left tackle, a spot he’s been pretty productive at throughout his inaugural NFL season.

If the Jets are to stick with Darnold heading into his fourth year, they’ll need to protect him. Keep that in mind as the 2021 draft creeps closer.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.