New York Jets: Sam Darnold needs to play right away

Sam Darnold (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Sam Darnold (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

New York Jets quarterback Sam  Darnold needs to start immediately, right from day one.

There is the age-old debate whenever a team selects a quarterback high in the draft. When should that quarterback begin to play? The New York Jets haven’t heard this debate very often, mainly because they haven’t had a quarterback of this caliber in many years. Now after choosing Sam Darnold with the third overall pick, the Jets are in the heat of this very debate.

Many believe that every rookie quarterback should be “red-shirted” or placed on the bench for a year to learn. They can be mentored and learn the game by watching from that way. Others believe that they should get the quarterback into the fire and let him learn by doing. He will get better as he makes mistakes. They say there is no substitute for in-game reps.

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Our good friend Joe Caporoso from Turn on the Jets talked about this very topic. His premise was that unless Darnold is light years behind the rest of the quarterbacks he should start in week one. I totally agree with my blogging friend as he is absolutely right. Get Sam out on the field from day one.

First of all let’s talk about this concept of mentoring. People talk about it like it is a blanket for all draftees. It isn’t. It’s a case by case basis. The biggest example of a quarterback that sat was Aaron Rodgers. That is because some guy named Brett Favre was the starting quarterback.

Favre was a hall of fame quality quarterback. Green Bay would have never played Rodgers day one in that situation. It was never going to happen. When a team has a legend under center, the new quarterback is going to watch him play. That is valuable. When a once in a generation type of player is there, it’s important to study that player.

In the Jets case, the incumbent starter is Josh McCown. Yes, he had a good year, completing over 67% of his passes. But he threw for 2,900 yards and 18 touchdowns. Let’s not make it sound like he played like Peyton Manning in his prime. McCown didn’t tear it up by any stretch of the imagination. He played well, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is limited.

Don’t forget how irregular this performance was for McCown. Generally speaking he has been a mediocre quarterback for his career. That’s why he has travelled around the league to as many teams as he has. The odds of back to back big years are slim. It is much more likely that he steps back toward his career average. We have all seen this show once before, but it was called Ryan Fitzpatrick.

We don’t need a sequel.

Now, McCown will make a great mentor. Where Darnold needs one is in the classroom. He needs one on the practice field. McCown can teach him about preparation. He can show him an NFL player’s work ethic. He can be his eyes and ears on the sideline. An experienced quarterback playing that role is invaluable. McCown seems motivated to mentor him. That can be done, and will be most valuable, from the sidelines.

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Playing the quarterback from day one is not a guarantee to ruin the prospect. That also is a case by case basis. Don’t point to Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez. Playing day one had very little to do with the demise of either one. Sam Darnold, whether he was your number one choice or not, is a far better prospect than either of those two.

Plenty of quarterbacks have played from day one and may not have succeeded right away, but they ultimately were terrific. Peyton Manning is a perfect example with 28 interceptions his first year. Nobody says Darnold is going to be perfect in the first year. But unless he looks lost, get him out there right away.