“Quite frankly, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that the Jets have the worst roster in football right now.”
Harsh criticism from former NFL MVP Rich Gannon, who will get the pleasure of calling the game between that roster and the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. On Friday, though, he joined Moose & Maggie on WFAN, giving that quote when asked about Sam Darnold’s development – and doubling down on it.
“Where is the talent? Where are the good, Pro Bowl players? There’s not a lot of them, and that makes it even more difficult for a guy like Sam Darnold,” Gannon said. “The offensive line is constantly a work in progress, their best wide receiver is a guy who can run but can’t really catch it, I don’t see that production from the tight end position, and Frank Gore is a Hall of Fame back, but he’s 37 years old.”
He wasn’t much kinder to the defense, and when asked if Trevor Lawrence should have reservations about coming to New York if they select him No. 1, the blunt answer was, “I would…with some of the decisions they’ve made, that’s an organization that has so much work to do.”
In Darnold’s defense, Gannon did note that all the change he’s endured in two-plus seasons is never good for a young quarterback…but no one is going to give you a mulligan because of that.
“There’s been a lot of change around Sam which is never good, and there’s not a lot of talent around him…it’s a great situation, but sorry, nobody cares,” Gannon said. “This league is ‘what have you done for me lately,’ and he has not been very productive. The accuracy hasn’t been great, the decision-making has been an issue, and the turnovers are a problem.”
Across the hall at MetLife, the Giants are living that with Daniel Jones – but unlike Jones, who seems entrenched as the guy, Darnold is on much rockier turf, especially if the Jets do get a Top 2 pick and have either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields on their radar.
If and when Darnold comes back this season, there is a lot to work on.
“Turnovers were part of his mock-up coming out of college, and that to me still has to get resolved – taking care of the ball and understanding situational football,” Gannon said. “I don’t know if there’s an easy fix, but my sense is that he needs to go back to basics of fundamental football, work on his feet and his eyes, and have better understanding of concepts and playing faster. There are times where he looks good, but at times, his feet and his eyes are an issue.”
And if they do move on from Sam, is he viable somewhere else?
“If the Jets move on, it’s not a fair assessment of his talent, and I think it’s certainly worth the risk – but sometimes, you have to go to the back of the line,” Gannon said. “He’s still young and has a lot of the intangibles you like at the quarterback position, he’s smart, and he’s tough mentally and physically – but I don’t think a team is going to see him available, and take him and immediately make him their starter. He has to re-earn his stripes and make the most of his opportunity.”
Gannon knows about that, as he was in his thirties and on his third team before everything finally clicked.
“Hindsight is 20/20, but I was one of those quarterbacks that had a lot of change around me as a young player. It wasn’t until I got to Kansas City where it started to make sense for me, and my career started to take off,” he said. “When I went to Oakland and Jon Gruden, the system was almost identical, so it clicked quickly, because I had the background.”
It was with Oakland that Gannon went to a Super Bowl and won an MVP Award – both of which happened at age 37, in his 15th NFL season – but if Darnold is going to get that chance, it all comes back to those issues with ball security being cleared up.
“He has talent, but his issues with ball security is a problem; if you can’t take care of the football, you simply won’t last very long.”
Gannon also talked a bit about Daniel Jones and the top college QBs, so listen to his full segment below!