Darnold Ironically Can Reach His Full Potential in Carolina



Sam Darnold is gone, and the Jets’ latest quarterback search has reached another unhappy ending.


Zack Wilson likely will be the next candidate for the franchise quarterback heir to Joe Namath in April.


Darnold leaves behind an overall 13-25 mark with 45 career touchdown passes and 39 interceptions that helped produce an overall ranking of 78.1 in 38 games.


His three-year stay can be debated with the likes Richard Todd, Ken O’Brien, Boomer Esiason, Chad Pennington, and Mark Sanchez as quarterbacks after Namath with periods of success.


He dealt with an ankle sprain, a foot sprain, mononucleosis, and a shoulder sprain in three years.


There is some irony in the trade, and Darnold looms as the prospective benefactor.


Darnold also dealt with head coaches Todd Bowles and Adam Gase — two coaches who aren’t highly respected — and a myriad of offensive coordinators.


He never truly had a full offensive arsenal over his three years, yet he managed to rally his team to a 6-2 mark over the final eight games of the 2019 season.


Wide receiver Robbie Anderson, one of Darnold’s most effective weapons, wasn’t re-signed as a free agent and landed ironically with Carolina, where he will reunite with Darnold.


Darnold also will be coached by Matt Rhule, who reportedly wasn’t allowed to choose his assistants by the Jets after he was assumed to be a major head coaching candidate.


The former USC signal caller also will have the benefit of running back Christian McCaffrey, one of the game’s elite, and ex-Jet Trenton Cannon also is in the backfield.


Ex-Jets guard Pat Elflein is a projected starter as well as ex-teammate Frankie Luvu at linebacker.


Then there is quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who signed a three-year, $63 million deal last season with the Panthers and had a mediocre year. Ironically, Bridgewater was in Jets’ camp in Darnold’s rookie year of 2018 before he was traded to New Orleans.


Now, Bridgewater has surfaced as the leading candidate in New Orleans to replace the retired Drew Brees, and Carolina may regain the draft picks they lost for Darnold by shipping Bridgewater back to the Big Easy.


So, Darnold escaped from New York, and he may finally blossom down South as was expected when he arrived in Florham Park. He certainly won’t be under intense scrutiny as he was here.


He was another quarterback who couldn’t be the next franchise-Namath one.


Wilson will follow in line when the Jets draft him in April, and he’ll immediately be under the spotlight With his high profile, it will be interesting to see how long Wilson’s leash will be.


On the other hand, Darnold has a fresh start with the surroundings he never really had.


About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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