Just in case the Jets’ 0-7 season hasn’t been painful enough, the football scheduling gods have decided to rub a handful of salt in your wounds.
For the first time since passing on Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft, the Jets will face defending champion Kansas City and its Super Bowl MVP quarterback this Sunday.
That’s right. The Jets had a chance to draft the quarterback who has reversed the fortunes of the Kansas City franchise, and they took a pass. If things had been different, you could be sitting in your living room proudly wearing a Jets-green Mahomes jersey instead of sobbing into your Sam Darnold.
The Jets had enough predraft interest in Mahomes to bring him to New Jersey for a private workout before the 2017 draft. They decided to pass on him at No. 6 overall in favor of defensive back Jamal Adams, whom they traded to the Seahawks this season. Mahomes fell to No. 10, Kansas City traded up to get him — and three years later, he was the Super Bowl MVP.
"I definitely thought there was interest there," Mahomes told reporters in Kansas City on Wednesday when asked about the Jets. "Whenever you get on those visits, you know they’re pretty interested in doing their due diligence, so I mean I definitely thought there was some interest there. At the time they drafted a great player in Jamal Adams, so you can’t really argue with that one."
The Jets were far from the only team to pass on Mahomes, who appeared to taunt the Bears last season for passing on him with their No. 2 pick. After scoring a touchdown during a Sunday night game against the Bears, Mahomes was caught on camera counting to 10 on his fingers.
Will Mahomes count to No. 6 this week? He doesn’t have to for Jets fans to feel the pain of having another season without an answer at quarterback.
Former Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan passed on Mahomes because he already thought the team had its quarterback of the future in Christian Hackenberg, whom he drafted the year before. When that didn’t pan out — Hackenberg never played a down in the NFL and turned his attention to baseball — the Jets took Darnold with the third overall pick in 2018.
Two years-plus later, Jets fans now are dreaming of drafting yet another quarterback — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
The head-to-head comparison between Mahomes, whose team is 6-1 and aiming for another Super Bowl victory, and Darnold is painfully mind-blowing. Let’s sum it up this way: While Darnold has almost as many interceptions (34) as touchdown passes (39) in his career, Mahomes has thrown for 92 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in seven more NFL starts.
Darnold, who missed two games this year with a shoulder injury, has nine more games to prove he is the answer. He practiced fully Thursday after being limited in Wednesday’s practice.
Of course, Darnold will not be on the field at the same time as Mahomes, so he isn’t getting bogged down in comparisons.
"You can only compete against their defense and do your job. You can’t worry about the other side of the ball," Darnold told reporters on Thursday. "You have to worry about executing that side and that moment. The only thing we can control is how we compete individually as a group.
"This is a challenge. But you can’t think about what’s going on the other side."
You can dream, though.