By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Let the audition begin.
It will be a script that couldn’t be written any better.
Sam Darnold likely will begin his final six games as a Jet when he makes his first start from a shoulder injury against Miami at MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon. That is, if he remains healthy down the stretch.
He will begin his final trek against possibly Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is the last Jets’ quarterback to lead the team to a winning record.
Darnold could also face rookie Tua Tagovailoa, who is the designated Dolphins’s franchise quarterback, the title once designated upon Darnold.
The once-labeled quarterback savior remains an enigma.
The Darnold trade rumors already have enough steam behind them to generate thoughts of the third-year quarterback being dealt to possibly Pittsburgh, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia and even New England for starters.
Darnold will have to show that he can generate a second-round pick and possibly another one to help GM Joe Douglas to deal him to usher in the Trevor Lawrence era beginning in April 2021.
He’ll try to do that Sunday having his full complement of receivers — Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, and Brett Perriman — for the first time this season.
Darnold won’t have much of a running game with Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine out as well as patchwork offensive line due to a recent rash of injuries.
This one will be on him.
Darnold has shown he can scramble, and he will have to generate most of the Jets’ running game. He’ll have to try to stay in the pocket long enough to get the ball to his trio. There also is tight end Chris Herndon, who recently emerged from his funk.
Even though Douglas has stated that Darnold is “his quarterback,” the former USC phenom appears to be headed for greener pastures, not the Meadowlands.
Darnold never found any solace with proclaimed quarterback whisperer head coach Adam Gase, and he never quite had all the necessary weapons around him.
He missed 10 games in three years, which left him on the doorstep of being labeled as an “often injured” quarterback. His negatives began to outweigh his positives and kept the mystique of unsuccessful USC quarterbacks in the pros alive.
Still, Darnold showed the franchise flash last year with his 6-2 finish down the stretch, and his stock suddenly skyrocketed again. He came into training camp with a head of steam, but lost some momentum in the early weeks. Since then, Darnold has had a terrible season.
It could be really interesting if Darnold does rally the team to a couple of victories down the stretch, and the Jets fall out of the Lawrence sweepstakes.
There are other quarterbacks to draft like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and BYU’s Zach Wilson, but does Douglas then stay with Darnold? He could use his five draft picks in the first three rounds to fill some other holes.
A Darnold-led win over Miami certainly will raise curiosity, but the likelihood of a loss will generate some more rumors.