Some news and notes for this morning:
1) Last night’s trade by the Jets, which sent quarterback Sam Darnold to the Panthers for a collection of draft picks, marks the start of a new era for a Jets team that was getting left behind within the AFC East.
The selection of Darnold with the third overall pick in 2018 was supposed to be a defining moment for the Jets, but injuries and other issues never saw the former USC standout be able to turn things around. Instead, the ascension of both the Bills and Dolphins have marked a change to a division that in years past wasn’t exactly competitive, with Tom Brady’s departure from New England seemingly shifting the competitive balance in 2020 yet the Jets ended up as the punching bag within the AFC East.
In fact, Darnold was the odd man out of that race last season, with the Jets going 0-13 to start the year, before finishing 2-1 down the stretch, which included a loss to the Patriots in what was essentially Darnold’s final game in that uniform.
His departure is bad news for the Patriots, who have completely dominated him. Darnold never beat New England and was essentially defeated in convincing fashion in all but one match-up, losing 27-13, 38-3, 30-14, 33-0, 30-27, and 28-14 in respective games against Bill Belichick’s team going back to 2018.
Down in New York, they’re not surprised and felt the change was necessary because Darnold was heading into what was essentially a crossroads for a team that would have needed to make a difficult decision on his future.
From Brian Costello’s column in the New York Post:
The Jets needed to move on from Darnold. Yes, there are many factors that played a role in his struggles, but Darnold defenders do not put enough blame on him. The inconsistency and struggles that he showed can’t be blamed entirely on the coaches or his supporting cast. Darnold struggled to read defenses. He made head-scratching decisions. By the end, he was at his best when he was not asked to do a lot. Darnold was becoming a game manager, not a franchise quarterback.
Throw in his contract status and the Jets had to trade him. Darnold has one year left on his rookie contract plus his fifth-year option for 2022 ($18.9 million), which must be picked up by early May. That is no-man’s land. The Jets are not going to be good this season. There are too many holes to fill. So, if Darnold had a mediocre season (20 touchdowns, eight interceptions) and the team went 7-10 (weird, I know), then what? Do you give him a contract extension off of that?
Costello also pointed out that Darnold was a victim of a team that wasn’t very good and didn’t protect him well enough, with their offensive line being terrible in his three seasons with the team and the fact they were lacking talent at the receiver position. That makes it hard for any new quarterback to gain confidence, so it’s no surprise the results are what they are.
All of that is a moot point now as Darnold is headed out of the Conference to a Carolina Panthers team that had been all-in on Deshaun Watson up until all the allegations came out against him.
Maybe a change of scenery will see him turn things around. Darnold has had his moments but QB coach Jordan Palmer talked about the now-former quarterback earlier this offseason and said that timing is everything, so maybe this will be just what Darnold needs to finally reach his potential.
“Part of me wants Sam to finish what he started and get it right, and part of me would love to see him get a change of scenery, because I’ve seen that work so well for others,’’ Palmer said back in February. “This league is a right-place-right-time league and a wrong-place-wrong-time league. The right guy in the right situation has got a chance to be in the mix at the end.
“With Sam, it just hasn’t happened yet, and it will. And I can honestly say that right-place-right-time could be this year with the Jets. Or it could be somewhere else.’’
We’ll see if Carolina ends up being that place.
2) As for what that all means for the Patriots, there is certainly a ripple effect that will certainly change things in the draft. It likely takes Carolina out of the mix for a quarterback, which now at least opens up an opportunity for the Patriots to have a better chance to make a move if they want to make a run at someone.
If history is any indication, it would be shocking to see any type of substantial trade to move up the board, although this offseason has already been a big enough exception to make you believe anything is possible.
As it currently stands, the teams at the top who aren’t expected to take a quarterback are Atlanta (#4), Cincinnati (#5), Detroit (#7) and now Carolina (#8). If the Patriots want someone, they’ll likely need to get ahead of Denver (#9), who is rumored to not be totally sold on Drew Lock and could possibly grab a QB should one of those guys slide down, or even move up the board themselves to go after one. After that, it’s Dallas (#10) and the Giants (#11), followed by the Eagles (#12), Chargers (#13) and Vikings (#14).
Needless to say, the landscape continues to change, setting up what will likely be an interesting few weeks. Belichick was aggressive during free agency but is maintaining a wait-and-see approach leading up to the draft. Hopefully, it pays off but it definitely seems like there are still other dominoes left to fall as the Patriots continue trying to grab their final missing piece heading into 2021.
3) Meanwhile, New York’s other team, the Giants, are seeing their QB also gather his players together for a passing camp.
According to reports, Daniel Jones has reportedly organized a week-long passing camp out in Phoenix to start getting some work in heading into the season. Among those players is newcomer Kenny Golladay, along with Sterling Shepard.
The Giants are considered a team on the rise after Joe Judge led them to a 6-10 record in his first season as head coach and seems to have them headed in the right direction. Jones finished the season with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020, but got better about protecting the football after throwing just one pick over his final give games.
Judge seems to be building a team with a winning culture and he also recently added to his coaching staff, hiring LSU’s Russ Callaway as an offensive assistant. Callaway and Judge have worked together previously, having worked in Alabama back in 2011.
4) While looking up some information on Josh McDaniels, I didn’t realize that both McDaniels and Nick Caserio played football together at John Carroll.
However, the big thing I definitely didn’t know was that despite the fact McDaniels was a high school quarterback, he was beaten out by Caserio for the job in college and ended up becoming a receiver.
McDaniels caught 41 passes for 732 yards and 7 touchdowns over this final two seasons and said the move ended up being good for him because he got to experience things from the other side.
“It was great for me because it gave me a different perspective,” McDaniels told the Globe back in 2019. “And I got to play in the same huddle with [Caserio]. That was the most fun I had playing in college.”
Dave Ziegler and Jerry Schuplinski were also part of that group, rounding out a connection I obviously missed. The fact that they all ultimately ended up together in the NFL for one of the most successful franchises is also definitely pretty cool.
5) Finally, USA Today’s Chrissy Froyd reported the Patriots recently met with Mississippi State QB KJ Costello, who is coming off of a couple of good pro day showings.
Former Mississippi State and Stanford QB KJ Costello has met with the Chargers, Saints, Patriots and Eagles.
Will be interesting to see where he lands after a record-breaking start to the 2020 season and good pro day showings at San Jose State, Mississippi State.
— Crissy Froyd (@crissy_froyd) April 5, 2021
He had a rough 2020, starting off the year by throwing for 623-yards passing, before struggling following a concussion and also battling COVID-19. He eventually ended up on the bench after being replaced and that appeared to have him fairly motivated during his workouts leading up to the draft.
His former high school coach, Rick Curtis, told USA Today back in February that Costello is the type of player who works hard and would be an asset to any NFL team that takes a chance on him.
“I think the great thing about KJ is his competitiveness,” Curtis said. “He’s always going to bounce back. I think that’s something, that, if I was an NFL team that I would look strongly at. He brings a lot to the table. He’s a guy that a team rallies around. In everything he does, he’s going to put his heart and soul into it.”
Costello started his career with Stanford and finished with a completion percentage of 62.9% over his four years between the two schools, along with 55 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Carolina Panthers Dave Ziegler Joe Judge Jordan Palmer Josh McDaniels K.J. Costello New England Patriots New York Giants New York Jets Nick Caserio Sam Darnold