Darnold needs to be back out there, but not this Sunday

VINCENT DAVIS | 10/3/2019, 6:29 p.m.
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been cleared to perform in non-contact activity. He began working out and throwing Monday, but ...
Sam Darnold Bill Moore photo

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been cleared to perform in non-contact activity. He began working out and throwing Monday, but without any physical player contact.

Head coach Adam Gase updated reporters during a conference call.

“He’s been working on his conditioning. He can’t lift yet, and we still have some evaluations to do as the week goes on.”

Darnold has been under observation all week by New York Jets coaches and doctors to determine if he’s fully recovered from a bout of mononucleosis that has sidelined him since Game 1 on Sept. 8. He’s just returning to practice, to their facility, since the beginning of the season a month ago and is prepping to play Sunday’s early afternoon road game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I feel like I could play right now,” said Darnold. “That’s obviously coming from a place without practicing or anything the last three weeks, but I’m pretty confident in myself that I’d be able to go out there and adapt,” noted the Jets’ second year QB.

“For me, it’s the timing aspect of everything. It’s dropping back and putting a ball where it needs to be and that kind of stuff.” Yes, he’s correct, but he hasn’t performed these functions during a game or regularly in practice in weeks.

The Eagles, 2 and 2, care about only one thing. Being 3 and 2. They’re not concerned about Darnold’s liver and spleen, and his last three weeks of fevers and fatigue. They’re coming off of a 34-27 road win ending a two-game losing streak against the Green Bay Packers, now 3 and 1, who have a healthy, league-leading Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

The Jets, a winless 0 and 3, are coming off of a bye week playing with Luke Falk, a third string quarterback with very little pro experience, learning on the job, holding them down after Darnold’s unexpected early season illness, and their backup quarterback Trevor Siemian sustaining a season-ending injury in the second quarter of Game 2.

Rodgers, a Super Bowl winner and two-time pro bowler, finished 34 for 53, starting off 10 for 10 for 422 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, one sack to tally a 27 point loss.

Darnold, expected to one day be the Jets’ franchise player, has to think long-term and realize that a few days of extra rest and practice may be best. Setbacks can lead to damage to his liver and spleen. He’ll need Rodgers-type output to compete on Sunday after suffering from those fevers and fatigue.

He can be a hero next week at home against the Dallas Cowboys, Week 6, and the New England Patriots here in Week 7. It’ll get a little easier in Week 8 on the road in Jacksonville to close out October.