National Football League

The New York Jets are apparently deciding between Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson

March 3

It might be time for Sammy and the Jets to break up.

The starter under center for the New York Jets heading into the 2021 NFL season is still to be determined, with new snippets of information coming to light daily.

The latest is that New York's front office is willing to entertain the idea of trading three-year starter Sam Darnold.

The Jets hold the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and it just so happens that this year's class of newcomers is full of quarterback talent.

The question for the Jets this offseason has been whether one of those young signal-callers could be more valuable than Darnold under center.

Many draft projections, including those of FOX Sports' Jason McIntyre, have linked New York to BYU star Zach Wilson, and NFL analyst Mike Tannenbaum said he believes Wilson is a more attractive option for the green team in the Big Apple.

"Zach is a great athlete, with really good arm strength – as the ball gets further down the field, somehow his accuracy gets better .... Zach Wilson is the better quarterback for the New York Jets."

Wilson stepped into the college football spotlight last season and propelled BYU to an 11-1 record and the Cougars' highest national ranking since 1996.

Wilson ranked top-three in the nation in completion percentage (73.5), passing yards (3,692), yards per attempt (11.0), touchdowns (33) and quarterback rating (196.4). Only Alabama's Mac Jones could rival Wilson, also finishing in the top three in completion percentage, passing yards and scores.

Speaking of passing yards, Wilson threw for at least 300 yards in six of his 12 starts while tossing a mere three interceptions.

However, not everyone is convinced that Wilson is the solution for the struggling Jets franchise. That includes Colin Cowherd, who said Wilson doesn't pass his eye test.

"I have my questions about Zach Wilson. He looks skinny. I didn't see him beat any good teams in college ... I trust my eyes. He just doesn't look like a guy that's going to take over the league."

Wilson would be the first BYU quarterback since Steve Young in 1984 and the fourth in the school's history to be taken off the board in the first round. 

BYU plays in the Mountain West Conference, and its schedule last season featured just two games against ranked teams: On Nov. 6, the Cougars defeated No. 21 Boise State 51-17, and on Dec. 5, BYU lost to No. 18 Coastal Carolina 22-17.

NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper said the Jets better be sure about Wilson's ability before they move off of Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

"Zach Wilson you better feel can be big-time to make that move where you take the young quarterback – unproven – over a guy you know better than anybody and has had some success despite a terrible supporting cast."

Darnold has seen quite a bit of turnover in his three years as a member of Gang Green, including a new general manager, a new coach and multiple exiting star players, with a majority of those exits fueled by internal displeasure.

Despite it all, Darnold boasts the second-most completions (729) by a Jets signal-caller through his first three seasons in franchise history, as well as the fourth-most passing yards (8,097) and passing touchdowns (45).

He has also been reliable, missing just three games in his three seasons with the franchise.

Not to mention, Darnold showed signs of life at the end of last season. In his final six starts of 2020, he had a 60.7 completion percentage, with 1,163 passing yards for six scores and five interceptions, while leading the Jets to their only two wins of the season.

By comparison, in his first six starts of the year, Darnold had a 58.6 competition percentage with 1,045 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and six interceptions.

Whether the Jets decide to move on from or stay with Darnold, a decision will have to be made and made quickly.

New York – you're on the clock.


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