Will Sam Darnold return under center for the Jets this season?
Some Jets fans have their reasons for thinking that he won't or that he shouldn't. Head Coach Adam Gase and Darnold, among others on the inside, feel strongly that he will and that he should.
"Hopefully he gets better sooner than later, but I expect him to be back at some point," Gase said of his sore-shouldered starting QB before Wednesday's practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. "I don't know when that is. I talked to him yesterday and I think he's feeling better, he's getting stronger. I think we just want to make sure he's healthy and then we can get him out there.
"Last week after watching his reaction when he wasn't feeling right, I see him wanting to play. I see a guy that's really trying to put himself into position to go out there on Sunday. We just feel like, talking with the front office, the coaching staff, Sam, the trainers, the doctors, this was the best thing to do for this week."
Gase wasn't talking about this Sunday, since Joe Flacco has already been named the starter for the Jets' first visit to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to play the Chargers. But Gase said he'd have a hard sell convincing his third-year signal-caller to sit out the rest of the Sundays this season.
"If I said that to him, I don't know if that would go over very well," the coach said. "He wants to play. I just think that last week, when he tried to make some of those throws that he went to make and he wasn't able to do it the way he wanted to, that caused us especially to pull back because he wasn't able to control the ball the way he wanted to with the velocity he wanted to."
Darnold said as much when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday about needing to tap the brakes before proceeding full speed ahead.
"I mean, obviously, I want to play," he said. "I always want to go out there and put it on the line for my teammates and my coaches and just go out there and play football. That's what I love to do and that's first and foremost.
"Obviously as well, I've got to think about me. Injuring my right shoulder, it's definitely tough to kind of weigh all the options of what I can do. You start thinking in terms of just longevity and how I can further injure the shoulder. So I just think from where we're at right now, it's a good decision to be able to give it another week to heal up."
One major reason for everyone wanting to see Darnold return in 2020 was suggested by the way Flacco and the offense showed life through three quarters against New England with 319 yards and three touchdowns.
Combine this with Darnold's first half vs. second half split in his two-plus seasons at the Jets helm — he's 4-15 with 20 touchdowns, 25 interceptions and a 71.0 passer rating through the first eight games of those seasons, 7-6 with 19 TDs, 9 INTs and an 89.2 rating in the final eight games in 2018-19. That makes it all the more beguiling to see him teamed with WRs Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and rookie Denzel Mims and his line intact around him.
"We want Sam to get out there, his teammates want him to be out there," Gase said. "And everybody wants to see what it can look like when we have the starting receivers, offensive line and him out there. Let's see what we can do when we get all those pieces out there."