NFL.com's Adam Schein recently published an article detailing nine predictions for the 2020 NFL season and he believes Jets QB Sam Darnold, who went 7-6 as a starter in 2019, will emerge as a star.
"I still love Darnold," Schein wrote. "His rookie year was a classic roller-coaster ride, not at all helped by the offensive coordinating of Jeremy Bates, who was fired — along with head coach Todd Bowles — after the season. General manager Mike Maccagnan kept his job through 2019 free agency and the draft — and then got canned. Adam Gase was brought in to maximize New York's second-year quarterback ... and Darnold got mono. But don't let all of this misfortune color your view of the No. 3 pick of the 2018 draft. He still has plenty of promise, especially with competent leadership now in the front office."
General manager Joe Douglas, who was hired last June, has surrounded his young quarterback with a revamped offensive line as he added seven new faces up front after the unit was decimated by injuries in 2019. Douglas also added a pair of former first-round receivers in free agency — Breshad Perriman and Josh Doctson — before drafting Baylor's Denzel Mims in the second round of the draft.
"General manager Joe Douglas has shown plenty of promise in a short time on the job, with a calculating, savvy approach," Schein wrote. "He brilliantly beefed up the offensive line this offseason, adding a whole bunch of big bodies in free agency and then spending the Jets' first-round pick on OT Mekhi Becton. This is how you properly protect a young quarterback, by OVERindulging on O-linemen. Now, Darnold's receiving corps is full of question marks, but Douglas did add the explosive Denzel Mims in Round 2 of the draft."
Entering the second year in Adam Gase's system, Schein believes Darnold, with an improved supporting cast, will pick up where he left off last season. Darnold improved in almost all of his statistical categories, including completion percentage, passing yards, passing touchdowns and interceptions.
"Down the stretch last season, after Darnold was recovered from mono, the young QB excelled," Schein wrote. "From Week 9 through 17, he averaged 245.2 passing yards per game and compiled a 14:5 TD-to-INT ratio, leading the Jets to a 6-3 record. Darnold has every intangible and tangible you want in a true franchise quarterback. And in 2020, it all comes together over the course of a full season."