Sam Darnold has shown serious potential through two seasons with the New York Jets. He definitely hasn’t put it all together yet, but it’s not all on him.
Darnold’s supporting cast is far from what you see from most true playoff contenders. Last year, Darnold relied on a group of decent but not great receivers, led by Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson, and Demaryius Thomas. Le’Veon Bell, the team’s big 2019 acquisition, was the third-leading receiver from the running back spot.
No player cracked 1,000 yards through the air. Bell was the only one to do so in total yards, though the season was far below what he was accustomed to with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he only found the end zone four times total. The bigger issue may be the offense line, though. Darnold and the other Jets quarterbacks that filled in for him were under siege last season.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas is determined to get Sam Darnold some help. On a recent media teleconference, he said that he promised Darnold’s parents that he’d do “everything in his power” to get him help. So far this off-season, that has been a mixed bag.
Joe Douglas said he promised Sam Darnold’s parents last year he’d do “everything in my power” to protect their son — with linemen & playmakers
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) April 1, 2020
In 2019, Darnold played in 13 games, missing time due to mononucleosis. While playing, he was sacked 33 times. That was well below the league leaders, but prorated for a 16 game schedule, and he would have been in the top 10. Going beyond the raw numbers, and things looked even worse, with the team having the third worst sack rate, at 9.1-percent.
The Jets have added five new names at offensive line this off-season: Josh Andrews, George Fant, Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern, and Greg Van Roten. Some of them have a decent amount of starting experience, but there isn’t a star among them.
The skill position situation is more precarious. The Jets added Breshad Perriman, who finally started to flash at the end of last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being a pretty solid first-round bust through three seasons. There’s a good chance he won’t offset the loss of Robby Anderson, now a Carolina Panther, though.
The biggest development for the Jets may actually be the departure of Tom Brady from the New England Patriots. Still, the Jets have plenty more to do, especially in the receiver-heavy NFL Draft, to make good on Douglas’ promise and start to inch towards contention.