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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sam Darnold could open the season as inactive for Jets

Sam Darnold

The New York Jets have invested too much in Sam Darnold to rush him onto the field in 2018, and the former USC star may not even be on the active roster in Week 1 if he does not beat out Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown for the starting job.

The Jets are holding an open competition at the QB position this summer, and many assume Darnold will be the team’s No. 2 option if he isn’t named the starter. However, as ESPN’s Rich Cimini notes, it makes no sense to have Darnold serve as the backup on game day if the Jets feel he is not ready to start.

If Teddy Bridgewater is the opening-day starter for the Jets in Detroit, it makes sense to have an experienced and capable quarterback such as McCown as the No. 2. A Bridgewater-McCown tandem gives them a better chance than Bridgewater-Darnold to win that game. I don’t think it’s even up for debate. It would be a tall order for a rookie to come off the bench in Week 1, especially in a prime-time game.

I could see coach Todd Bowles sticking with Bridgewater-McCown (or McCown-Bridgewater) until Darnold is ready to play. At that point, he can make the jump from No. 3 to No. 1.

The Los Angeles Rams took a similar approach with Jared Goff in his rookie season, and that worked out in the long run. Although, Goff struggled mightily in limited action in his second season and didn’t break out until the Rams brought in Sean McVay as head coach.

You might be surprised to hear who is supposedly leading New York’s QB competition early on, but it isn’t shocking that Darnold is no lock to be active in Week 1. We have seen the Jets throw rookie QBs to the wolves too many times only to see it not work out. Making the same mistake with Darnold could be devastating for the franchise.

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