Sam Darnold and the Jets received the news that they were hoping for Tuesday. The Jets franchise quarterback was cleared for contact and will start Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.
Darnold, who missed the last three games after being diagnosed with mono, underwent his latest round of tests Tuesday to see if his enlarged spleen had reduced to the point where it was safe to play.
The team announced that Darnold was medically cleared and that he would start Sunday when the 0-4 Jets try to claim their first victory of the season.
During an ESPN radio interview Monday, Darnold said that he was “excited” to hear the results of the tests and he had “a feeling it’s going to be good news.” He was right, and now the Jets hope he can give a boost to an offense that has looked sickly.
“Any time you get your starting quarterback back that’s going to help you a lot,” coach Adam Gase said Tuesday during his weekly spot on ESPN radio. “We had a good few days of practice last week with him in there. Moving forward, that week is going to pay off for us.”
By getting the results now, Gase can plan out his work week with the team returning to practice Wednesday. Much has been made about how Gase handled practice last week and how the first-team reps were divvied up.
It was clear that the Jets expected Darnold to be cleared last week. Gase gave Darnold the first-team reps on Wednesday and Thursday. But then Darnold was ruled out after undergoing tests Thursday night. Luke Falk only started taking first-team reps on Friday and had a rough performance in Sunday’s 31-6 loss to the Eagles.
Falk, who started the season as the practice squad quarterback, threw for 120 yards, committed three turnovers and was sacked nine times. The Eagles returned two of his takeaways for touchdowns.
Now, Falk will return to his role as Darnold’s backup. The Jets lost their No. 2 quarterback Trevor Siemian for the season to an ankle injury in a Week 2 loss to the Browns.
Gase was asked if he regretted not signing another veteran backup quarterback, considering how Falk has played the last two games — 218 total yards, four turnovers, no touchdowns.
“We didn’t,” he said. “That was just the decision that was made. We’re at where we are right now. Sam’s back so it’s really irrelevant.”
The offense has been a major disappointment after Gase was being hailed a mastermind and genius on that side of the football. His system has produced just nine points in the last three games and 17 overall this season. Not having his starting quarterback the last three games has had a major impact as has the ineffectiveness of the offensive line.
The Jets rank last in most offensive categories including yards per game, yards per play, first downs, passing yards, passing touchdowns and overall touchdowns. Their quarterbacks have been sacked a league-high 23 times. Le’Veon Bell said after the Eagles’ game that guys didn’t know where to be lined up, and Falk had to help them.
Darnold should help improve all of these numbers. But Gase’s offense wasn’t a well-oiled machine with Darnold either.
In the Jets’ season-opening loss to the Bills, Darnold led just one scoring drive. He wasn’t 100 percent at the time, and threw for 175 yards and one touchdown. It was the Jets’ last offensive score until this past Sunday when Vyncint Smith ran in a 19-yard reverse for a touchdown. But that field position was gifted to the Jets after Trenton Cannon recovered a fumbled punt on the Eagles’ 19
“Getting some of the pieces back is going to help us,” Gase said. “Guys are focusing on correcting the mistakes that they’re making.
“On offense you need 11 guys to do their job. We have not been clicking. We have not had that moment of 60-something plays where we’re winning more plays than we’re losing. That’s what we need to get to. We need to make sure that happens. If we keep doing it at practice, it’s going to happen in a game, it will click.”