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Adam Gase: Sam Darnold Is 'on a Pitch Count' in Bid to Return as Jets QB

HC Says Signal-Caller for Bills Will Depend on How His Young QB Feels After This Week's Practices


Quarterback is once again a midweek topic for the Jets. But this week, unlike the previous two, Head Coach Adam Gase can say that "all options are available" for Sam Darnold to return under center after sitting the previous two games with a right shoulder sprain.

"We'll have him on a pitch count," Gase said before Wednesday's practice, referring the unfolding plans for Darnold this week. "I think really the biggest thing is going to be how's he going to feel tomorrow. We just want to make sure, if there's anything that really lingers or anything when he's throwing, that's his red flag of 'Hey, I've got to let you guys know.'

"I think the trainers and Sam have done a good job of communicating to make sure they're both on the same page, then relaying the information to us to make sure that we know what's going on. It's one of those situations where we need him to be real honest, which he's done a good job of since I've been here as far as telling us where he's at on things."

So does that mean Joe Flacco, after starts in the losses to Arizona and Miami, will return to backing up Darnold against Buffalo at MetLife Stadium on Sunday? Not so fast, said Gase.

"I think [Sam's] percentage is going up," the coach said. "Obviously, we have Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. You want to think if we get through Wednesday and he comes back Thursday and feels good, it looks like it's going to be on the right track. But you just never know what Friday is going to bring, so we'll kind of work through it.

"We've got to kind of work them both. We'll see how today plays out. I think having Joe as someone that has a lot of experience and my confidence level in him if it's fewer reps, I'll be alright with that. To me, he can handle that. If we were talking about a second-year player that was behind Sam, then I'd be a little more concerned."

Whichever QB gets the home nod against the Jets' division rivals could also get the benefit of what Gase called "the three dudes that you've planned having out there." That's the three injured wide receiver dudes, Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and rookie Denzel Mims. Crowder has been available for the past three games while Perriman returned at Miami. And Mims?

"I think we've got a chance," Gase said. "Mims had a great week of practice last week with the scout team stuff that we had him doing. This week we'll get him involved in the normal offensive practice, and as long as we don't have any setbacks and nothing happens injury-wise. ...

"For us it's the same thing with [rookie RB La'Mical] Perine. Let's get these guys in there, let's see what they can do, let's give them the ball. Let's see if some of these young guys can make some explosive plays."

Either potential starting QB would approve of that recipe for Jets success.

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