AFC East

Sam Darnold is the Answer to the New York Jets Franchise Quarterback Struggles

Sam Darnold, picked No. 3 overall on Thursday, hopes to break the Jets' curse at quarterback. Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

The New York Jets have been in the search for its franchise quarterback ever since the day Joe Namath retired from his football career. The Jets have ran through numerous quarterbacks from Ken O’Brien to Chad Pennington to most recently Josh McCown, but no one has truly been the answer to being the Jets franchise quarterback.

General Manager Mike Maccagnan came in strong in his first year with the Jets in 2015. The team was exciting for the fans and it seemed as if Maccagnan had his quarterback answer with former Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick having a franchise record breaking season for the team.

These past two seasons showed that any hope the Jets had for its quarterback situation at the time was false hope. Fitzpatrick returned to his old form and did not perform well in 2016. 2015 fourth round pick Bryce Petty showed little promise in his starts. 2016 second round pick Christian Hackenberg is looking like a bust as well as he has not been able to move up the depth chart and has zero NFL snaps in his first two seasons. Josh McCown put together a relaivetly solid season for the Jets in 2017, but at age 39 McCown is clearly not the answer.

The Jets struck out in free agency in its pursuits of now Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Maccagnan knew he had to make an aggressive move to find his quarterback. With a month until the 2018 NFL Draft, Maccagnan proved his aggressiveness and traded up with the Indianapolis Colts to the third selection in the draft. It was a large, but worthy haul of draft picks as the Jets sent the sixth overall pick in the draft along with two 2018 second rounders and a 2019 second round pick.

There was plenty of critiscim received for the Jets giving up such a large haul for one pick, but in a draft with highly regarded quarterback prospects the Jets had to make sure they got its guy. This type of move is not out of the norm as the Philadelphia Eagles sent a large package to the Cleveland Browns to move to pick number two in the 2016 NFL Draft and two years later the team has a Super Bowl Ring to show for it.

The Jets were rumored to have interest in all the top quarterback prospects such as Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and UCLA’s Josh Rosen and many believed the team was destined to leave the draft with one of these two top guys. The Jets interest in USC quarterback Sam Darnold was not very publicly apparent as he was believed to be the consensus number one quarterback and player in the draft and was expected to be selected first overall.

As the dominoes fell in the draft the Jets were able to land the prized Darnold. The Browns passed on Darnold for Mayfield and the New York Giants decided to avoid the quarterback position and added dynamic running back Saquon Barkley from Penn State with the number two selection.

The Jets are getting a very special quarterback in Darnold who is a winner as he went 20-4 at USC. Darnold has career numbers of 7,229 yards and a 64.9% completion percentage to go along with 57 touchdown passes and a 153.7 quarterback rating. Darnold had 22 interceptions in his two playing seasons, but this is something he acknowledged he has to fix and can fix.

Darnold is ready to bring his winning pedigree and looks forward to a long career with the Jets. “I’m very confident here that we’re going to win some games. And I think I’m going to be here for a long time,” said Darnold.

Darnold has a ton of room for growth as well. Darnold is very young as he will turn 21 in June and with his size and athletic ability he has the chance to be a very special quarterback. Darnold ran for seven touchdowns in his two seasons at USC which shows how dangerous he can be using his running ability to complement his passing ability.

Darnold is excited for the opportunity to be a Jet and is ready to get to work. “I’m taking it head on,” he said of the pressure. “I’m a pretty confident guy. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m going to go in there and do the things I do, what the coaches ask me to do and do it at the highest level. That’s my plan,” said Darnold.

Jets fans should be very excited for the future of its team. The team is very young and energized and added pieces on both sides of the ball this offseason. The Jets have found its solution to getting its franchise quarterback and it will be fun to see how Darnold grows to his high potential through his career in the big apple.

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