There’s been a curious movement afoot of late from some armchair analysts that the Jets should rest Sam Darnold, regardless of what the doctors say about his enlarged spleen resulting from the mononucleosis he’s had for the last few weeks.
Protect him from pass rushers. Protect him from himself. Keep him out of harm’s way.
There even have been some suggestions the Jets should put their franchise quarterback in Bubble Wrap for the rest of the season, concede to this 0-3 start and save him and his spleen for 2020 when the team around him will presumably be better.
All of this is preposterous. The Jets should do with Darnold what the doctors tell them to do. When he’s cleared to play, he plays.
If, after the ultrasound and blood tests Darnold is scheduled to have on Friday, the doctors tell him he is good to go Sunday at Philadelphia, then Darnold should play. End of story.
“For me, the results are going to speak for themselves. The doctors are going to make that decision,’’ Darnold said Thursday after completing his second full practice of the week while taking all of the starter reps. “I want to make sure I’m safe out there and I’m not going to die. But for me sitting back and watching the team play, and not having anything to do with a win or a loss, it’s not a good feeling for me.’’
Darnold, who’ll have some custom-made extra plastic padding around his midsection for added protection, was asked if he’ll think about taking a damaging hit once he’s cleared to play.
“Hopefully, if the doctors give me the green light, there’s no risk out there,’’ he said. “Once I’m out there playing football, I won’t be concerned about it. I’m going to be cautious, but at the same time I’m going to play just like I would if nothing happened.’’
Darnold said he’s “preparing and practicing like I’m going to be the starter,’’ adding, “I feel really good. My energy is great, I’m having fun out there just playing football. It’s good to be back.’’
Darnold’s teammates and coaches second that emotion.
After the offense, which has produced one touchdown in three games, was non-competitive in the past two games, if Darnold is able to play Sunday it gives the Jets a palpable hope they lacked against the Browns and Patriots.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said Thursday the return of Darnold “lifts the morale of the whole team … the coaching staff and the fan base.’’
“That guy’s not replaceable,’’ Loggains said. “Everyone knows who the face of this franchise is.’’
Loggains described Darnold as having been “accurate’’ and with “zip on the ball’’ in practice this week, adding, “We’re happy where he’s at from a coaching standpoint.’’
Same from the players’ standpoint.
Running back Le’Veon Bell was so giddy about Darnold’s return to practice that he posted a hilarious meme on Twitter on Wednesday about how Darnold “showed up’’ to work.
“I’m happy as hell that he’s back, as you see by my [Twitter] post,’’ Bell said Thursday. “I can’t wait. For my eyes, he looks the same. The ball is coming out clean and accurate. He looks like the same guy.’’
By all accounts, beginning with that of coach Adam Gase and including those of players, Darnold has looked like himself in practice the past two days.
“I think he’s looked normal,’’ Gase said Thursday. “But it’s all going to be about test results.’’
As it should be.
For those in favor of Darnold sitting out at another week (or more) to be safe, ask yourselves this: Do you think it’s going to be any safer/easier next week when the Jets play the Cowboys? Or the week after when they play the Patriots again? Or the week after that when they play at Jacksonville?
You already know the answer to that.
Any player on any Sunday can get hurt. It’s the nature of football. It’s the nature of sports.
“If [the doctors] they tell us he can go, you can tell him not to play,’’ Gase said with a smile. “It’s not going to go well.’’
Darnold, of course, is looking forward to a time when the questions he’s answering are about TD passes and not the size of his spleen.
“When you miss a couple weeks, people are going to have questions,’’ Darnold said. “I understand it, but it’s definitely something — hopefully sooner rather than later — I want to put in the rearview mirror. But, I know I’ve got to let the doctors do their job.’’
And once they do, then Darnold can do his.