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Does Darnold Have Enough Weapons?
Sam Darnold showed enough promise in his debut season that for the first time in 10 years (since Chad Pennington) the New York Jets feel they have “their guy” to build around. The question is does new Head Coach, Adam Gase and the Jets have enough weapons around Darnold yet for him and the team to surpass expectations this year.
With an Over/Under of 3600.5, Darnold projects to have the 18th most passing yards in the NFL and 6th most in the AFC according to odds from DraftKings.
According to the FanDuel Sportsbook, Darnold is 100/1 to lead the NFL in passing yards. This gives you a sense of Darnold’s perception in the market. He has a high floor in terms of production because he is almost guaranteed to retain his starting position. However, because of the Jets’ limited weapons, he also has a low ceiling – with 21 QBs having better odds to win the yardage crown.
For years, the Jets were known for having the worst fantasy players in the NFL. Indeed, the New York team has only had 3 talent-position players this century be selected to the Pro Bowl: Curtis Martin twice in the early Aughts, Brandon Marshall in 2015, and return-specialist Andre Roberts last season.
However, the tide may be changing on the weapons front. The Jets acquired 2X All-Pro Le’Veon Bell in free agency. While RB acquisitions in recent years like Ladainian Tomlinson and Chris Johnson have flamed out spectacularly for the Jets, Bell should be among the freshest veteran backs ever, thanks entirely to his refusal to accept the Franchise Tag from the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.
Outside of Bell, however, there are huge questions marks on the Jets offense.
Smith Skeptical of Jets WRs
While the team paints a rosy pictures about the possible development of their receiver core, former All-Pro WR, Steve Smith remains unconvinced.
“You know what is a question mark for me – wide receivers,” Smith told NFL Network this week. “I don’t see anybody on that roster and watched, that has a Ph.D. in route-running. Not one. And until they get a guy that can step up and be reliable, consistently for 16 weeks – 1,000 yards – somebody that strikes fear into opposing defensive coordinators and DBs – this team isn’t dethroning anybody.”
New Head Coach Adam Gase has had tremendous success over the years developing wide receivers such as Erick Decker and Demaryius Thomas in Denver and more recently Jarvis Landry in Miami. But there is only so much you can couch up WR talent. Jamison Crowder is a serviceable, veteran slot receiver. Outside, however, Robby Anderson and Quincy Emura are unproven at best, and nearly out of the league at worst.
The Jets haven’t had a Pro Bowl quarterback since Vinny Testaverde in 1998. Darnold has the talent to break that streak sometime in the near future. Call me skeptical, however, that this is his time yet. Even after years of tanking, the Jets don’t have a single downfield threat that moves the needle. While I’ll be interested how their WR core develops during the preseason, until I see proof of improvement, I am leaning that Darnold goes Under 3600.5 yards and that Jets go Under 7.5 Wins. Wouldn’t touch his odds to league the lead in passing with a 10-foot pole.
Darnold will hope to have the sophomore season reminiscent of a Peyton Manning (13-3) rather the the regression of a 2nd-year Robert Griffin III (3-10). However, I don’t think 2019 will be the breakout year for the former USC signal caller..