new york jets
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For the first time, Sam Darnold admitted the obvious.
The team’s starting quarterback — the player some thought would be the answer to the organization’s decades-long search for a franchise signal-caller — acknowledged there is doubt about him remaining a Jet. That his future in green is very much uncertain.
“I’m not sure,” Darnold said over Zoom when asked if this could be his last game with the team that drafted him, after he closed an overwhelmingly disappointing season with yet another underwhelming performance.
All indications are coach Adam Gase will be fired after the Jets completed a dismal 2-14 season with a 28-14 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Darnold’s future, meanwhile, is very much unknown. That depends on general manager Joe Douglas, who Darnold expects to meet with in the near future, and whoever is the team’s next coach.
The Jets have the No. 2 pick in April’s draft, and could opt to replace him with either Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson, the two highest-rated quarterbacks after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who should go No. 1 to the Jaguars.
Darnold, the team’s third-overall pick in the 2018 draft, took a step back in his third season instead of a step forward. For the first time in his career, he threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine). He threw multiple touchdown passes in a game just twice all year and has gone 17 straight games without reaching 300 passing yards. He was at times handcuffed by the lack of talent around him, and the decision by the Jets to not bring back Robby Anderson, his top weapon who enjoyed a career year with the Panthers, clearly backfired.
“I definitely didn’t play well this year,” he said. “I think I can definitely play better in the future. … I wasn’t consistent enough and that’s really it.”
Sunday was typical of Darnold’s Jets career. There were some glimpses of promise, back-to-back touchdown drives when he completed 9-of-10 passes for 156 yards and a 21-yard scoring strike to Chris Herndon. But he was otherwise inaccurate and ineffective, throwing two killer second-half interceptions that destroyed any chances of the Jets finishing the season on a three-game losing streak.
“It definitely wasn’t what he or I thought [it would be],” Gase said, summing up the season. “I know he had some adversity to overcome. I’m sure [when we] look back at it, there will be things we wish we would have done differently.”
Following the defeat, Darnold took ownership of his performance. He blamed himself and didn’t fault the organization for the lack of weapons around him. He promised to dive deep into the film and find out where he can improve.
“Just right off the bat, I think I made too many impulse decisions,” he said.
It remains to be seen if Darnold will have the opportunity to bounce back as a member of the Jets.
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