If there was one thing we learned on Sunday at MetLife Stadium during another embarrassing New York Jets effort against the Miami Dolphins, it’s that time is running out for Sam Darnold.
The third-year quarterback returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games with a first opportunity to show that he really could be the franchise passer of the future. Week 12 was the first time this season that Darnold truly had a full complement of receivers with Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, and Jamison Crowder at his disposal.
Finally, the Jets and their fans were going to have the perfect opportunity to see just how good Darnold could be rather than performing under the built-in and logical excuse that he had no weapons around him.
Instead, there was not a single iota of evidence of an uptick in Darnold’s play. In fact, he looked exactly the same.
Against a mediocre Dolphins pass defense, the 23-year-old completed just 16-of-27 passes for 197 yards and two interceptions — and both were solely on his shoulders.
His first came just after the Dolphins took a 10-3 lead in the second quarter, rolling out to his right under pressure in the second quarter and needlessly throwing into triple coverage toward Perriman. The problem was his pass was nowhere near the receiver and was easily picked off by Nik Needham. It led to a Dolphins field goal that put the visitors up 10.
Darnold’s second pick of the day just added more salt in the Jets’ wounds directly after Miami took a 20-3 lead in what became garbage time in the fourth quarter. Failing to recognize Perriman was tightly covered on a short comeback route, Darnold’s pass was jumped by Xavien Howard.
He now has eight picks in seven games compared to just three touchdowns this season.
One could blame Darnold’s poor performance as him trying to shake off the rust after being out for nearly a month, but franchise quarterbacks do better than this. Even veteran Joe Flacco — who many consider a wash-up — did more with the offense, particularly over his previous two games against the Patriots and Chargers.
At 0-11, the Jets are still on pace to “win” the No. 1 selection at the 2021 NFL Draft, presenting a clear path to take Clemson standout quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The decision to make that franchise-altering shift at quarterback only grew easier on Sunday and it doesn’t look like it will become difficult any time soon. The Jets are expected to be considerable underdogs in each of their remaining five games against the Raiders, Seahawks, Rams, Browns, and Patriots.