Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur see “untapped potential” in Sam Darnold

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The first decision to be made by new Jets coach Robert Saleh will be one of his most important: Who will the team’s quarterback be in 2021, and beyond?

They have Sam Darnold under contract for one more year, with the ability to pick up his fifth-year option before May 3. They also hold the second overall pick in the draft, which gives them control of the board after the Jaguars select quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

There’s an initial glimpse into Saleh’s mindset, or maybe it’s a smokescreen. Via Rich Cimini of, Saleh and incoming offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur believe, after watching “a lot” of Sam Darnold tape, that the quarterback has “untapped potential.”

For now, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft sits at No. 4 among the the five first-round quarterbacks taken that year. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the first selection, plays today. Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the seventh pick, already has punched his ticket for the AFC Championship. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the final pick in round one that year, has won a league MVP award.

Can Darnold join them? Unless the Jets are trying to boost his trade value or otherwise conceal their intentions, maybe he can. Maybe in the Kyle Shanahan-style offense, Mike LaFleur can help Darnold tap into that potential.

And then LaFleur will be a head coach somewhere else, and the Jets will need a new offensive coordinator to work with Darnold.

But that’s an issue for another day. For now, the clock has begun ticking toward a fairly important decision regarding whether the Jets should stick with Darnold or draft a new quarterback. In this regard, any and all words are simply a meaningless precursor to action.

23 responses to “Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur see “untapped potential” in Sam Darnold

  1. I’ve seen flashes of what Darnold could be in games against us. His career has yet to begin, he has serious potential but right now he is a broken horse that needs mending.

  2. LaFleur will be bringing the Shanahan offense to NY and they need a real QB to run it, welcome Justin Fields with the 2nd pick of the 2021 NFL draft. And good bye Sam Darnold to any team willing to give up a 3rd or 4th round pick.

  3. That would be a mistake that would guarantee that those two are fired in a couple of years. Darnold wasn’t the only problem, but he was a big part of the Jet problems.

  4. The goods is that if they are wrong about Darnold they’ll have another high pick in the 2022 draft they can use on a QB.

  5. Tough decision. If you get a good offer for the #2 pick, you could fill a lot of holes that need filling, like the Colts did with the Jets picks that got them Darnold. Guess it will really come down to how they feel about Darnold vs. the QBs that they might draft, like Fields or Wilson.

  6. I think you take the big time offensive tackle at 2 and pair him with the big one they took last year. Build the foundation of an o-line that could last a decade.

  7. Darnold has had 3 bad years.
    he is inconsistent. He makes some nice throws, then makes a bone headed interception worthy throw (that is sometimes dropped and doesn’t show up in the stats books).
    Good + interceptions = so-so/inconsistent and not what you want in the playoffs.

    Trade him and draft a new QB.

  8. OTs don’t win championships. QBs do. Take Fields and fill holes with your other picks. They’re probably going to have high picks again next year too.

  9. It’s hard for me to believe that after two days that they’ve made a final decision on what to do with Sam Darnold.

  10. If the Jets can trade down just a few spots — say, to the Panthers’ #8 overall pick or the Broncos’ #9 overall — that would net them an additional 1st round pick and even more flexibility. I wouldn’t be surprised to see such a trade, though it may come from someone picking farther down in the round.

  11. Just a couple months ago, many of the football “experts” were still highly critical of Josh Allen. Well respected analysts were saying that he was just inaccurate, and that accuracy was a skill that you’re either born with it or you aren’t. Steve Young was so bad early in his career, Tampa Bay actually got rid of him, trading him to the 49ers. Brett Favre was traded from Atlanta to Green Bay. Drew Brees from San Diego to New Orleans. Jim Plunkett from New England to Oakland. If Sam Darnold was coming out in this draft class, he’d be the undisputed #2 pick, after Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence could be receiving grades that are the highest all time for a college QB, so Darnold could be the overall #1 pick in many draft classes. He’s still that same QB. As we’ve seen with Josh Allen, Steve Young, Brett Favre, etc., HOF-Super Bowl winning QB’s don’t all look great right out of the gate, especially if they’re with a bad organization, and the recent Jets are among the worst all time. And then there are the organizations that withstood the early years, and stayed the course with their young QB’s, got through the early losing, and then went on to win Super Bowls. I’m talking about Pittsburgh with Terry Bradshaw. Dallas with Troy Aikman. Indianapolis with Peyton Manning. Denver and John Elway. And yes, Buffalo and Josh Allen. Sam Darnold is an elite HOF type QB. The Jets could trade him away, and watch another team reap the benefits, or they can keep him and build around him. They’ve already gotten rid of two potential HOFers, Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams, so they’re starting a rock bottom. But they have the #2 pick. They can either trade it away to try to get multiple picks, to draft another defensive HOFer, if they see one. Sam Darnold could very well be a top five QB in a year or two.

  12. Makes sense to trade pick #2 to the Niners for Fred Warner (to quarterback the defense) and picks including #12. With a couple of other free agents, Saleh could have a legit defense in a hurry.

  13. Sam is only 23 yrs old! He has gone through a lot the last 3 years.

    If there is any chance to revive his career then keep him.

    Jets have enough draft picks and $$$ for FA. Build the team around him.

    Give him 2021 to prove himself.

  14. Unless they are really wowed by Darnold, it would be a mistake to pass on one of the top QBs with the second pick.
    Not a Jets fan, but hoping he puts together a great Offensive coaching staff to help him succeed (duh)

  15. I’m thinking of that old Geico commercial where Pinocchio is a motivational speaker telling people they have potential.
    In seriousness, Darnold has shown no indications he will ever be an elite franchise QB, but has enough to be in the top half of starters across the league. It all depends on how much of an appetite Saleh and his staff have for developing him vs. drafting a guy who may be closer to ready out of the gate. I do know there are enough QB needy teams with inept GMs (no coincidence) out there that someone is almost certain to overpay for Darnild in a trade if they put him on the trading block.

  16. They can take the 2nd best QB or the no.1 LT or the no. 1 WR in the draft to help Sam Darnold. If Saleh really is a defensive guru they aren’t taking the QB. They’ll rely on the D while the new OC builds around Darnold. I bet they take the Bama WR at 2.

  17. The first decision is how to get rid of the owner who only cares about $$.
    Every single player on the jets that comes to a pay day gets traded away.
    Every single top draft pick gets traded away if they are remotely any good.
    Darnold would be a winner on almost any other team but he is on the jets who purposely decimate the team to save $$$

  18. Darnold is an unknown quantity, arguably held back in an inept scheme. In this situation the Jets need to draft a QB and have the two compete. Darnold should be considered the starter until and unless the rookie just plainly outshines him. Everybody has a trade value, and if in the interim a very good deal is offered, they should consider it.

  19. If Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, or Lamar Jackson were drafted by the Jets, there is no reason to believe that they would have fared any better with them than Darnold has.
    None of them would have played a playoff game or even come close to a winning record. The incompetence, and the turmoil that comes with that, would have been enough to ruin every young quarterback that had the misfortune to be wearing the green.
    Saleh and Lafleur not giving up on him so quickly is the probably the first reason to have optimism for that disorganization in years.

  20. The same people saying keep him are the same people who thought the Panthers dhould have kept Jimmy Claussen instead of drafting Cam Newton. Darnold stinks. He was a large part of why they nearly went 0-16 this year.

  21. If Jax takes Fields and Lawrence falls into the Jets’ lap, then Darnold will be traded. Somehow, I don’t see the Jags doing this.

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