If there can be positives taken out of Sam Darnold’s 2020 season amid a dumpster fire of a Jets campaign, it’s that he’s confident — and nothing short of a good soldier.
The latest example of that was seen on Monday as he spoke with the media, sticking to the status quo of cliches and maintaining a professional facade even though the team he plays for has been anything but that amidst an 0-13 season.
A franchise-worst start that could very well surmount into one of the worst seasons in NFL history has seen the clock potentially begin to wind down on Darnold’s career with the team that drafted him third-overall less than three years ago.
The USC product hasn’t come close to living up to the lofty expectations that were once placed upon his shoulders on draft day, with many of the Gang Green faithful hoping that he would be the franchise’s next Joe Namath.
Within an organization that is dysfunctional at the very top, Darnold has never stood a chance.
Christopher Johnson isn’t concerned with putting a winning product on the field and his (apparent) continued support of Adam Gase — the head coach who only further derailed Darnold’s career — is evidence of that.
The 23-year-old has regressed in his third NFL season behind an inconsistent cast of playmakers and a suspect, rebuilding offensive line. He’s completed just 58.4% of his passes for 1,560 yards, five touchdowns, and nine interceptions in nine games.
With the Jets looking destined to nab the No. 1 pick, they’ll have the option to draft Clemson standout Trevor Lawrence — widely considered as one of the top can’t-miss prospects of the last 20 years. Such a decision would bring an end to Darnold’s run with the Jets, which the passer is trying not to focus on.
“I’m not worried about speculation or what others are saying outside of our locker room,” Darnold said. “For me, I’m worried about playing good football down the stretch and really taking it one day at a time and one game at a time.”
He still believes that he is the Jets’ franchise quarterback of the future even despite the struggles and what appears to be a toxic culture from the outside looking in.
“I mean, I believe in myself as a quarterback and as a player in this league,” he said. “Obviously, that decision isn’t up to me, but I’m always going to believe in myself. I have the utmost confidence in myself to be able to go out there and play good football on Sundays.
“I love it here, I love the people around here, I love living here. I’ve always said I want to be a Jet for life. But again, that decision is not necessarily up to me. But that’s how I feel.”
Darnold and the Jets are coming off an embarrassing outing against one of the league’s worst defenses in the Seattle Seahawks where they failed to score a touchdown in a 40-3 loss. It was the seventh time in Darnold’s nine starts this season that the offense scored between zero and one touchdown.
Next on tap is the Los Angeles Rams and a defense that has allowed the fewest points and third-fewest yards this season.