Robert Saleh, Joe Douglas and the Jets have a choice to make under center. Don’t expect a quick decision, though.
New York will weigh all its options in the months leading up to the NFL draft. They could take a quarterback with the second overall pick – BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields are great options – or trade for an established starter like Deshaun Watson or Matthew Stafford.
The third option is keeping Sam Darnold for at least another season. He only has one year left on his rookie contract – with a $9,794,271 cap hit in 2021 – but comes with serious question marks. Darnold threw for a career-low 2,208 yards, nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completed only 59.6 percent of his passes in 12 games in 2020 after missing time with a shoulder injury. He’s just 13-25 in his three seasons with the Jets with 8,097 passing yards, 45 touchdowns, 39 interceptions and 20 fumbles.
While Saleh was complimentary of Darnold in his introductory press conference Thursday, he refused to say whether the 23-year-old would be the Jets’ 2021 starter.
The new head coach stuck to that script Friday when he appeared on the Rich Eisen Show. Saleh continued to praise Darnold’s ability but said it was too soon to make a decision on his quarterback for next season. He noted that Darnold’s future with the team “was discussed” plenty in his interviews for the Jets job.
“I think we have equal belief in Sam in terms of his arm talent, his mobility, his fearlessness in the pocket, his ability to process information and make great decisions,” Saleh said. “There’s a reason why he was the No. 3 pick. He’s only 23 years old. There’s no question that Sam is capable of being a starter in this league and capable of playing in this league at a very high level. We’re excited to get with Sam, talk with him more and develop our relationship with him.”
The Arizona Cardinals faced a similar situation in 2019 when they owned the No. 1 overall pick but still had 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen on the roster. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury infamously said his feelings towards Rosen “haven’t waned or changed” and that the young quarterback was his “guy.”
Then he drafted Kyler Murray and traded Rosen three months later.
Saleh didn’t go as far as Kingsbury did, only saying that he still needed to evaluate the entire team before making any decisions on personnel – including Darnold. That includes more meetings, film reviews and getting to know his players. Though Saleh said he’s spoken with everyone on the roster, he still wants to speak face-to-face with everyone as soon as possible.
“We’re just starting to dive into tape, coaches are showing up, we’re still trying to figure out where people fit in the scheme and figure out position changes or modifications,” Saleh said. “There’s an entire process we have to go for… but I will go on record: Sam is capable of being a starter in this league and capable of playing at a high level and his talent shows it on tape when you watch it.
“I’ve got this belief when you’re here, you’ve got all of us and so we’re going to approach Sam that way.”
Published: 2021-01-24 15:54:48
Tags: #Robert #Saleh #continues #praise #Sam #Darnold #commitment