Jets GM Joe Douglas made it very clear: big decisions for this franchise will be made this offseason.
First and foremost, it begins with the head coaching search that CEO Christopher Johnson said Douglas will be leading. Of course, Douglas made sure to say that it is a partnership, but the main opinion that will be the higher authority is his at the end of the day.
But when that coaching hire is finally made, next comes the big decisions regarding the roster. And there’s no decision bigger than the one of whether or not Sam Darnold will continue to quarterback the Jets.
So will he?
“Look, we’ve got a lot of decisions to make,” Douglas said. “I think that Sam’s going to be a great quarterback. I’m excited to get a head coach in here, go through our process. Had a great conversation with Sam yesterday. I won’t go into the specifics, but I think Sam has a very bright future in this league. So we’re going to get a head coach in here, we’re going to get together and we’re going to talk about quite a few decisions.”
The non-committal answer on Darnold for 2021 just proves that Douglas doesn’t want to show his hand just yet. He wants to get his new head coach in place and listen to his opinion on what comes next.
A lot of that has to do with the No. 2 overall pick that Jets currently possess. Trevor Lawrence is most likely out of the question, as he is pegged by virtually everyone to be taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first overall pick. Justin Fields? Zach Wilson? Those are two quarterbacks the Jets will be sure to evaluate thoroughly.
Under Adam Gase, Darnold’s development remained the same at best. He had a strong second half finish in 2019, but his 2020 campaign left many heads scratching.
Douglas gave a good answer, though, when asked if he regressed this season.
“I think Sam faced a lot of obstacles this year, as did everybody,” he explained. “Dealing with COVID and we had frankly we had quite a few injuries on the offensive line, at the wide receiver position. I think it was hard for our offense in general to really big kinda the sustained chemistry to create success throughout the year. I think we had different offensive line groups throughout the season. As I said earlier, we didn’t really get a chance to have our top three receivers on the field until Week 9. So I think all of those things impacted not only Sam, but impacted our offense.”
To Douglas’ point, it doesn’t help that Darnold was working with so many different line combos and throwing to receivers coming off the practice squad. The odds were stacked against him before kick off in some games.
December, however, showed a glimpse of what the Jets have seen in the previous two seasons with Darnold. He was mobile, throwing the ball with accuracy to his top receivers in Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims. And points were being put on the board.
“You obviously saw we were able to beat two playoff teams and a lot of that is because of the way Sam played,” Douglas said.
Was it enough to stay in the green and white? Or will Douglas be looking for a trade?
He may have his mind set on picking the right head coach. But once the hire is in, the next priority is making that big decision as it will heavily impact the rest of Douglas’ offseason with the Jets.