Jets 2020 Camp Positional Previews: Quarterbacks; Is Darnold Ready to Break out?
The 2020 New York Jets are just weeks away from kicking off their pre-season training camp (so we assume) at 1 Jets Drive in Florham Park, New Jersey. With than in mind, we’ll start taking a look at each position group as the date approaches with some thoughts on how strong the group is as a whole, who could surprise and a few predictions. Today, we start under center at quarterback.
2019 Stat Line:
Darnold enters his third pro season with higher expectations than ever. Despite a lack of proven talent at their first and second receiver spots with Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims respectively, things got a lot better for Darnold this offseason…or so we hope.
After a near complete overhaul of the offensive line by Joe Douglas, the Jets will have new starters at 4 of 5 positions in 2020, and that could end up being all five before the season comes to a close. No matter who starts where, it’s impossible to imagine the Jets O-line not being significantly improved in 2020. This is obviously very good news for Darnold.
A healthy Chris Herndon would quickly become the most important addition on offense given his ability to make plays in-line, out of the slot or on the boundary. Add Herndon to Jamison Crowder, Ryan Griffin and perhaps Le’Veon Bell lined up at WR from time to time and Darnold should have plenty to work with if the blocking up front is anywhere near middle of the pack.
With more time to throw, additional targets and year two in Adam Gase’s offense, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be Darnold’s best season to date. Is there enough in place for Darnold to “break out” and have a monster year? That will come down to how his top two receivers perform and whether or not Gase continues to force square pegs in to round holes, an issue that only exacerbated the Jets talent deficiency in 2019.
2019 Stat line:
Flacco should be just what the doctor ordered in terms of a backup QB. He’s a Super Bowl winning quarterback who understands he was brought in to mentor Darnold while preventing the offense from falling apart if Darnold were to miss time as was the case each of the past two seasons.
Flacco’s production was poor in 2019 before losing his starting job, but on film he looked like a guy who still had plenty of zip on the ball when he stepped in to his throws while also showing he can get the ball out in a hurry if he sees a coverage he likes.
Bringing in a player of Flacco’s stature was a strong move by GM Joe Douglas. The only minor concern is that if something were to cause Darnold to miss time early on, Flacco is not expected to be ready when the season kicks off. Following surgery for a herniated disc, Flacco shouldn’t see any contact until the middle of September.
An Adam Gase favorite, Fales played for the head coach in Miami before being brough in last season and re-signed this offseason to come back and suit up once again. Fales has played in just 5 contests since 2014, completing 64.6% of his passes with an average of 6 yards per attempt.
With Flacco likely to miss the first few weeks of the season, the Jets will need another QB to step up and earn the number two spot. White, a former draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys could be the guy to do it. He’s not the most nimble of quarterbacks, but White threw a very good deep ball in college and was always going to be a developmental quarterback. After a few years in the pros, is he ready to suit up on game days?
Darnold is the day one starter and Flacco will back him up for much of the way, but if there are any issues with Darnold in the opening weeks, it could be Fales or Mike White taking live snaps. A far from ideal scenario, but all things considered, the top of the Jets QB depth chart is in the best shape it’s been in years.
The fourth-round rookie is going to stick, but given the amount of work he needs withouit the benefit of a true pre-season, don’t be surprised if a mysterious injury lands him on IR where he can be stashed, or if he’s inactive for most of the season.
Morgan has a big arm and a gun slinger mentality, but his timing on deep balls has to get better. Morgan’s arm strength, mobility and leadership skills make him a good developmental player.
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