Weighing all elements in Joe Douglas’ ‘monumental’ Jets QB name

Joe Douglas can borrow the title for this Jets offseason from NBA famous person LeBron James. That is The Choice for Douglas.

The 44-year-old basic supervisor received’t be making his announcement on a prime-time TV particular, however he should determine who’s going to be his quarterback for 2021, and probably past, over the approaching weeks. Will Douglas keep on with Sam Darnold for a fourth season, hoping a brand new teaching workers and a greater supporting forged helps him enhance? Will he draft a quarterback No. 2 general and commerce Darnold? The choice comes with so many layers and will be seen so many ways in which it units up probably the most fascinating name for an govt and franchise in latest New York sports activities historical past.

“It’s the largest determination in his profession,” former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky mentioned. “It’s in all probability the largest Jets determination in, I don’t know, 40 years. It’s monumental.”

Get this mistaken and the Jets might be on the lookout for a brand new GM in just a few years. Get this proper and Douglas might be on his approach to bringing the Jets again from the wilderness by which they’ve been wandering for the previous decade.

The choice has a number of layers to look at. For our functions, let’s put apart the potential of buying and selling for Texans star Deshaun Watson, which in the intervening time nonetheless seems unlikely. Let’s give attention to Darnold versus the faculty quarterbacks, led by BYU’s Zach Wilson.

The Darnold Debate

The Jets drafted Darnold No. 3 general in 2018 with the hope that they had discovered their franchise quarterback. As a substitute, he has been a confounding participant. There are moments of brilliance interspersed with extra performs that make you scratch your head. Accidents and sicknesses have value him 10 video games and prevented him from taking part in a full season.

sam darnold plays for the jets
Sam Darnold
N.Y. Publish: Charles Wenzelberg

The controversy that’s now raging on discuss radio and Jets Twitter about Darnold can also be occurring contained in the group. There are some who see untapped potential that has been held again by a poor surrounding forged. Others are prepared to maneuver on.

It’s inconceivable to make a case for Darnold through the use of statistics. Since 2018, there have been 42 quarterbacks who’ve thrown not less than 500 passes. Darnold’s QB ranking of 78.6 is forty first out of these 42. Solely Josh Rosen’s 63.5 is decrease. Darnold has been intercepted 39 instances, the fifth-most picks over the previous three years.

On the opposite facet of the controversy, folks level to the very fact Darnold won’t flip 24 till June and has not been given a lot assist in his profession. Robert Saleh could be his third head coach in 4 years. Mike LaFleur could be his third offensive coordinator. The franchise has been unstable since Darnold arrived. The GM who drafted him, Mike Maccagnan, was fired after Darnold’s first season.

Then, there’s the expertise round him — or lack of it. Darnold has performed with an ever-changing forged of gamers. That is what number of totally different starters he has performed with at every offensive place: 15 extensive receivers, 9 tight ends, seven working backs, seven left guards, 5 proper guards, 5 proper tackles, 4 facilities and 4 left tackles. Of these 56 gamers, none has made a Professional Bowl as a Jet.

Darnold’s teaching can also be in query. Former head coach Adam Gase’s offense completed useless final within the NFL in complete yards in every of the final two years. Gase, who was employed to convey out the most effective in Darnold, admitted he failed the quarterback. Darnold has had a passer ranking of 100 or above in seven video games in his profession. 4 of these got here in his rookie season, three in 2019 and none final 12 months, as he appeared to regress.

That results in the query of how a lot better Darnold will be in LaFleur’s offense and whether or not Douglas can enhance the offense by way of free company and the draft this 12 months, one thing that might give pro-Darnold folks hope.

“I feel he was put in conditions which are robust to develop in at instances,” mentioned Matt Bowen, who performed seven seasons within the NFL and is now an ESPN analyst. “When you might have a number of head coaches, a number of play-callers, when you might have a talent-deficient roster round you, it’s robust to guage at instances. It’s important to return to the traits. I feel Sam Darnold does have high-level traits on the place. The query for the Jets is: Will these traits slot in LaFleur’s offense? Which I feel is likely one of the greatest offenses at this time within the NFL.”

Saleh and LaFleur convey the Kyle Shanahan offense with them from San Francisco. It’s an offense seen as quarterback pleasant due to the heavy emphasis on movement, play-action and rollouts. Darnold has at all times been good on the transfer, and the LaFleur offense might maximize that. There are numerous coaches and executives across the NFL who privately agree with Bowen and nonetheless see famous person potential in Darnold and consider that, in the correct offense, he can notice his potential.

One other issue within the Darnold determination, although, is funds. Darnold has one 12 months left on his rookie contract at $4.6 million. There may be additionally a fifth-year choice for 2022 that’s $18.9 million. The Jets are unlikely to choose up that choice. In the event that they keep on with Darnold, meaning they’d both have to maneuver on after this 12 months or decide to him with an extension. In the event that they draft a quarterback, nevertheless, they’d begin over with a quarterback on his rookie deal and not less than 5 years of staff management.

Many across the league consider the Jets might get a second-round decide for Darnold along with a mid-round decide this 12 months or subsequent.

“If you happen to’re going to sit down right here and inform me we’re going to take a quarterback as a result of we predict he’s going to be nearly as good as Sam Darnold, if not higher, within the subsequent three years and it resets our monetary timetable, I can’t sit right here and be like, ‘No, that’s silly,’ particularly with the monetary flexibility,” Orlovsky mentioned. “However I additionally know this: If you happen to take a quarterback and he simply turns into OK and Sam Darnold goes some place else and performs good, woo, good luck.”

The School Possibility

This is able to have been easy if the 2020 Jets had not received two video games in December. We’d be speaking about Trevor Lawrence, the can’t-miss child, going No. 1 general. As a substitute, the quarterback image at No. 2 is cloudier.

BYU's Zach Wilson
BYU’s Zach Wilson
Getty Pictures

There isn’t any consensus No. 2 quarterback on this draft. BYU’s Zach Wilson has gained probably the most momentum because the season ended, however he additionally performed a cupcake schedule. Ohio State’s Justin Fields might need probably the most spectacular traits. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is a little bit of a thriller after only one recreation final season and 17 complete in school. Alabama’s Mac Jones received a whole lot of video games with the Crimson Tide, however had an All-Star staff round him.

The Jets’ draft board will stack up with these 4 quarterbacks … and one different.

“I’d put Sam Darnold on the draft board,” Bowen mentioned. “I’d say the place will we grade him based mostly on his school and professional tape? If you happen to grade him larger than Wilson and Fields, you stick with him. It’s so simple as that. If you happen to don’t, then you definately transfer him.”

The Jets additionally want to guage what else they’ll do with the No. 2 decide in the event that they hold Darnold. They may commerce it for a package deal of draft picks to a staff that has fallen in love with one of many quarterbacks. They may take the most effective non-quarterback within the draft to assist Darnold. That might be a large receiver like Ja’Marr Chase of LSU or DeVonta Smith from Alabama, or it might be Oregon offensive sort out Penei Sewell to pair up with final 12 months’s first-round decide, Mekhi Becton.

“I’ve by no means been a giant Darnold fan. He’s a turnover machine. That’s what he’s,” mentioned Dan Shonka, a longtime NFL scout who now’s the overall supervisor of OurLads scouting providers. “However that being mentioned, I feel if I used to be Joe Douglas, I’d draft Penei Sewell at that sort out spot. Now, you’ve received a few bookend tackles so long as Becton can maintain up.”

Shonka shouldn’t be as excessive on Wilson as others. Wilson has skyrocketed up the media’s draft boards over the previous two months. Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms even rated him over Lawrence final week. Shonka has reservations concerning the BYU quarterback, who beat up on a weak schedule in 2020. He has him rated because the No. 5 quarterback behind Lawrence, Jones, Fields and Lance. Shonka additionally questions Wilson’s sturdiness due to his slight 6-foot-3, 210-pound body and the very fact he already has had a shoulder surgical procedure.

“You’re listening to the herd mentality on the market with Zach Wilson,” Shonka mentioned. “I need to let you know Zach Wilson could not maintain up within the Nationwide Soccer League. He’s a slim shoulder man. He’s very correct, good man, good anticipation and all that. However he’s not an actual massive man.”

Orlovsky is an even bigger fan of Wilson, who he mentioned has traits that he thinks will switch to the NFL.

“Wilson performs a FOMO fashion of soccer — worry of lacking out,” Orlovsky mentioned. “He’s made me say, ‘Holy fudge’ greater than any quarterback on tape this 12 months. There’s loads to love in his recreation. He has fast fingers. He jogs my memory of [former MLB star] Omar Vizquel. He’s loopy quick along with his fingers.”

Fields’ trajectory has been the alternative of Wilson’s. His recognition peaked within the School Soccer Playoff semifinals along with his efficiency towards Clemson. If the draft had been the subsequent day, he would have been the No. 2 decide. However his recreation has been picked aside since then.

“I feel Fields is extremely proficient. He’s deliberate,” Orlovsky mentioned. “You’ve received to determine if he’s going to develop from that as a result of being deliberate within the NFL shouldn’t be good proper now. For a man who’s extremely athletic, he doesn’t play super-fast. Are you assured that he’ll?”

Bowen believes among the deliberate nature of Fields recreation is because of the Ohio State offense that featured deep, longer-developing routes. He argues Fields was usually ready on the receiver, fairly than processing slowly.

Ohio State QB Justin Fields
Ohio State QB Justin Fields
Getty Pictures

Bowen mentioned Fields has expertise that may’t be taught.

“The traits matter,” Bowen mentioned. “They need to matter since you can not create these.”

Lance and Jones each have supporters, too, however appear much less more likely to be candidates for the Jets at No. 2.

The Last Choice

Douglas should make his name now in one of many trickiest offseasons ever for evaluating prospects. He received’t have the ability to have personal exercises and even eat dinner with the faculty gamers. He’ll attend Professional Days, starting with Lance’s on Friday, and debate with the scouts and coaches on his approach to making the decision that may outline the Jets’ close to — and probably long-term — future.

Douglas has been on the job for 21 months. The following month-plus main as much as and into the primary spherical on April 29 might be what defines his legacy with the Jets.

“I at all times assume basic managers put a stamp on their soccer staff,” Bowen mentioned. “Joe Douglas hasn’t achieved that but. So, what’s it going to be? I feel that is it. That is what the choice goes to imply.” 

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