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Sam Darnold to stay as Jets' starting quarterback, coach Adam Gase says

Head coach Adam Gase of the Jets and

Head coach Adam Gase of the Jets and Sam Darnold #14 on the sidelines in the first half against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

As long as Adam Gase is coaching the Jets, Sam Darnold will be his starting quarterback.

With only five games left in this historically bad Jets season, time is ticking on both. But despite Darnold’s struggles in Sunday’s 20-3 loss to the Dolphins, Gase said he didn’t consider removing him and replacing him with Joe Flacco.

Barring injury, Darnold will remain the Jets’ quarterback.

"Sam’s the starter and we need Sam to play as many snaps as possible," Gase said during a conference call Monday. "We’re going to keep working to get better every week. I think he will. He’s very competitive and he wants to do well and he’s looking forward to this next game."

Darnold, who returned Sunday after missing two games with a shoulder injury, did nothing to show he deserves to remain the starter as the Jets fell to 0-11. He failed to lead them on a touchdown drive and threw two interceptions.

In the two games Darnold missed, Flacco threw five touchdown passes and engineered seven touchdown drives.

The defense forced turnovers in Miami territory twice in the second half Sunday, and Darnold and the offense came up empty both times. They had a three-and-out and were stopped on fourth-and-1 in the red zone.

When Gase was asked why he didn’t consider bringing in Flacco, he said the issues were the entire offense, not Darnold.

"It’s easy to point at the quarterback all the time," Gase said. "To me, Sam needs to play. I want him to play. I want him to be out there. I feel like it wasn’t all on him every drive. Were there some mistakes made? Yes. But it wasn’t every drive was his fault.

"We don’t pull out offensive linemen because they get beat one time or two or three or five times. We don’t pull receivers out when they drop a ball. Guys got to stay in there and play. That’s football."

Gase certainly feels loyalty toward Darnold. He was hired to develop him and help him take that next step as a quarterback. That hasn’t exactly worked out, and now both appear to be on their way out.

It would be shocking if Gase isn’t relieved of his duties after the Jets’ last game, if not earlier. If the Jets get the No. 1 overall pick and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence declares for the draft, they almost certainly will trade Darnold.

There’s also the possibility that the Jets might move on from Darnold no matter where they pick, as he hasn’t shown the improvement a team expects a third-year quarterback to make.

Darnold has thrown three touchdown passes and eight interceptions in seven games. He has led five touchdown drives all season.

Not having his full complement of skill players and receivers earlier in the season had an impact, but Darnold played with the Jets’ three starting receivers for the first time on Sunday and produced three points.

To put that in perspective, the Broncos, playing with practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback because their four QBs were on the COVID-19 list, scored three points Sunday against the Saints.

"I just got to continue to get better and grow from it," Darnold said. "That’s all I can do. I’m going to look to get better and continue to put my best foot forward and make sure that I’m doing everything that I need to do every single day to get a win."

Gase said Darnold still has enough time to make some improvements and that he had to deal with some rust because he hadn’t played in nearly a month.

Darnold said he’s not viewing these final five games as an audition for his next team. He’s focused on his current team.

"He’s working to try to be a part of the solution," Gase said. "I don’t see his attitude changing. I know it can’t be easy for him. We all know that quarterbacks and head coaches are the two it’s all on. He’s trying to do everything he can to help us."

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