Will Sam Darnold's return be enough to get the Jets their first win?
Sam Darnold is back! This is not a drill, the Jets franchise quarterback has returned after sitting the passed couple of weeks with mono. It has been rough for the Jets and their fans as not only did they lose their starting quarterback but they've lost their second string quarterback as well, Luke Falk did the best that he could but was thrown into the wolves with a bad offensive line. To their credit Falk was holding onto the ball at times, and even the Eagles weren't scared at the Jets passing game so the team stacked up the box to stop Le'veon Bell. That was the key to success for them and really for all the teams that played against the Jets with Falk as the starting quarterback. So how does Darnold's return help the 31st rank offense in the NFL?
Although Sam is medically cleared and ready to go with two weeks of practicing, we may not see him completely 100% both physically and mentally for a couple of weeks. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains had an interesting comment earlier this week saying that Darnold's return won't magically make the offense better, but it will make the opposing offense more aware of the passing game which also benefits Bell as well. Even with a tough Dallas Cowboys defense that's coming off a loss in which they allowed 215 yards through the air and 120 yards on the ground, Packers running back Aaron Jones had himself a day with 107 yards and four touchdowns. I don't see Bell having that same type of performance but he should be more impactful than the previous weeks.
The offensive line should be a little better too but not too dramatically because Darnold won't be holding onto the ball like Luke Falk did, however if I'm Adam Gase I would continue to try different combinations on the line until they find one that works. Starting with the center position, I think it's time to consider giving Jonathan Harrison an opportunity since Ryan Khalil hasn't been that impressive through the first six weeks.
I'm not expecting the offense to score more than 30 points against the Cowboys, but what I hope is for the Jets to have sustaining drives. That way they help keep this defense (who have been the only bright spot on this team), off the field more so that they don't wear down in the 4th quarter. The defense last week held Carson Wentz to only 189 yards through the air, and for the season has allowed an 84.5 passer rating which is ranked 7th in the NFL per football reference. The rushing defense has also only allowed 3.4 yards per carry, which doesn't sound good for Ezekiel Elliott.
The Jets defense will also be getting back both Brandon Copeland and Jordan Jenkins back this week, that helps the defense as they are getting healthier. Although they will still be without CJ Mosley for at least another week, rookie linebacker Blake Cashman has been very impressive so far this year and when Mosley eventually comes back the defense will get much better. The Cowboys could also be without their entire left starting line, both Jenkins and Copeland could feast on Dak Prescott.