The movement was pure and powerful and ripe with anticipation. Sucking for Sam was all the rage for a tortured Jets fan base clinging to any morsel of hope.
Now, the dream is dead, shattered by a room full of competitive athletes playing hard for their head coach.
How dare they crush everyone’s spirits by winning professional football games?
Oh, sure, Gang Green technically can still get Sam Darnold if he makes himself eligible for the 2018 NFL draft, but it’s become a whole lot harder now that Todd Bowles’ team has had the audacity not to bow at the feet of the hot-shot USC quarterback destined for greatness.
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To make matters worse (if that were possible), a new contender has emerged from the Jersey swamps to possibly land the electric SoCal signal caller: The New York Football Giants.
While the Jets rejoiced in squeaking by the horrific Browns on Sunday, this strange new world is coming into focus: Imagine if the winless Giants complete their 0-5 implosion with an historic run into infamy before landing the next great quarterback.
What if the Giants brass puts soon-to-be 37-year-old Eli Manning out to pasture to pave the way for Darnold?
This is the new doomsday scenario for the Jets.
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Oh my God, I’m going to be ill. (And I’m not even a Jets fan).
Big Blue is an unadulterated mess after losing the game and they’re only dynamic offensive weapon with a fractured ankle on Sunday.
Manning isn’t Benjamin Button, either. There’s no miracle reverse aging cycle available. ICYMI: Ben McAdoo had the hots for Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes in this year’s draft before the Chiefs traded up to grab him. So, if you think that McAdoo isn’t going to go all-in for a potential franchise signal caller if he has a Top 5 pick in next year’s draft, then you haven’t been paying attention.
What if the feel-good Jets scratched out five, six or even seven wins this season, while the Giants unwittingly positioned themselves to draft Darnold?
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Man alive! I’m feeling queasy again.
Manning won two Super Bowls. There’s no telling how many Lombardi Trophies that Darnold would collect for the G-Men.
Could Jets fans stomach watching Eli pass the torch to Darnold?
Nobody, of course, is a sure thing. Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, who has experienced a lifetime’s worth of inept quarterback play in his 11 seasons in Cleveland, told me last week that Sucking for Sam – or anyone – is a dangerous game.
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Although a huge letdown is always possible, the promise of something special is worth the investment.
Real talk: Josh McCown is one of the toughest S.O.B’s around, but he’s not the future. Winning three in a row is cool. Facing the Patriots with sole possession of the AFC East on the line next week is neat.
But even if the Jets beat the Evil Empire on Sunday, they still need to find their long-term answer at quarterback. Until that happens, the Jets will never be Super Bowl contenders.
This feel-good start to this season has an eerily similar feel to the white-hot December stretch in 2015. It’s all you-know-whats and giggles until somebody realizes that this organization still needs to solve their biggest problem.
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Will it be Darnold? Will it be UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Wyoming’s Josh Allen? (Maybe it’s Washington State’s Luke Falk or Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph).
Nobody knows for certain, but here’s the worst kept secret in NFL scouting circles: Darnold has the potential to be the most special of them all at the next level.
He’s predictably been picked apart by stat-craving fans quick to point out that he’s already matched his nine interceptions from a breakout 2016 campaign. It’s true: 12 touchdown passes and nine interceptions don’t jump off the page. But there’s much more to Darnold’s game than just the numbers.
Rosen and Allen could be the real deal too, but at this rate, the Jets won’t be high enough in the draft to get a sniff of either of them too. They might have to pony up some serious draft capital to land their man (which is fine… as long as they’re right).
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The Giants, Browns and 49ers are residing in the league’s 0-5 cellar. Each needs a quarterback of the future.
It wasn’t long ago when Jets fans were popping up all over the place wearing green-and-white Darnold jerseys.
Now imagine if that name were on the back of a crisp blue Giants jersey.
It’s enough to make you want to throw up.
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