The New York Jets are often blamed for not putting enough talent around former quarterback Sam Darnold. While Darnold certainly did not help himself out, a portion of the blame also belongs to the supporting cast around him, which very few quarterbacks could play well in. This was due to several poor decisions made by their previous general manager. Having Adam Gase as head coach certainly did not help either.
When New York drafted Zach Wilson second overall this year, they knew it was a priority to surround him with the pieces to succeed. Heading into 2021, Wilson is in a better place to succeed than Darnold ever was. Below, I will compare their situations.
Jets: Comparing Their Coaching Situations
Head coaches Sam Darnold had during his time with the Jets were Adam Gase and Todd Bowles. Even though Bowles was a part of the 2015 Jets when they went 10-6, he didn’t bring enough passion to the team. Therefore, he was fired following Darnold’s rookie season as the team went 4-12. The Jets wanted the next coach to be an offensive-minded coach. They wanted this type of a coach because it could help Darnold fix his mistakes and improve.
New York hired former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase in January of 2019. At the time, many fans were skeptical of the hiring, and for a good reason. The proclaimed “offensive guru” didn’t help Darnold improve in the slightest. Out of all things, he ruined his mentality as a player. New York fired Gase after 2020.
As the team was in need of a culture change, they hired former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to be their next head coach. Saleh is known to energize his players, and that is what this team needed. Additionally, former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur to be Wilson’s offensive coordinator. Wilson’s coaching, while not proven yet, is set up to be a success.
Jets: Comparing Their Supporting Cast
As a rookie in 2018, Darnold’s top receiving options consisted of an inconsistent Robby Anderson, Chris Herndon, and Deontay Burnett. None of them finished with over 1,000 receiving yards and Anderson was better suited as a WR2. Darnold’s supporting cast improved a bit in 2019 with the addition of Jamison Crowder, but it still was far from good. As a result of this, Joe Douglas tried his best to surround Darnold for the 2020 season, but many of his signings failed to pan out.
This offseason, Douglas took an extensive approach to get as many receiving options for Wilson as he could. It began in free agency when they signed former Titans receiver Corey Davis to a deal. Additionally, they add a ton of offensive talent in the draft. They drafted guard Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC, drafted slot receiver Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss, and running back Michael Carter out of North Carolina. While the young weapons and linemen may take a year or two to develop, Wilson’s supporting cast is respectable and should be fantastic in a year or two.
While Wilson is most likely going to struggle at times as a rookie, the pieces around him look much better for the future. Wilson’s future as of now is in good hands. His supporting cast and coaching are miles better than Darnold’s.