Jets' Sam Darnold Can Be One of Best QBs in NFL, La'Mical Perine Says

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2021

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold rolls out to pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine still believes in Sam Darnold, despite buzz this offseason that the team could turn to a different option, either via a trade or the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. 

"No disrespect to any of the quarterbacks in the draft," Perine said on the NFL Network's Good Morning Football Wednesday (h/t Rich Cimini of ESPN), calling Darnold "a great leader.

"You have to put good weapons around him, and he can very well succeed and be one of the top quarterbacks in the league," he continued. "... I hope he's on our team this year. He's my starting quarterback."

While Perine makes a fair point about Darnold's lack of weapons during his young career, it's also fair to point out that Darnold simply hasn't been very good. 

Last season, the 23-year-old threw for 2,208 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 12 games, completing just 59.6 percent of his passes. For his career, he's thrown for 45 touchdowns, 39 interceptions and completed just 59.8 percent of his passes across three seasons. The Jets are 13-25 in his starts. 

Football Perspective @fbgchase

Struggled is doing a lot of work here. I wonder why there are so many Sam Darnold apologists but so few Dwayne Haskins apologists? Here are the last 16 games for both QBs. Surely you can tell which one is which.... https://t.co/HcA6PD9eS0 https://t.co/KH2yuZP4TC

Football Perspective @fbgchase

Quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards in a game more recently than Sam Darnold: Jacoby Brissett Jake Luton Brandon Allen Nick Foles Mason Rudolph Taylor Heinicke Nick Mullens Gardner Minshew Drew Lock Jameis Winston Jimmy Garoppolo Dwayne Haskins Alex Smith Cam Newton Jalen Hurts

Obviously, the rest of the roster isn't exactly loaded, and former head coach Adam Gase has failed to get the most of quarterbacks in his past, namely Ryan Tannehill. So there's an argument to be made for giving Darnold another chance under new head coach Robert Saleh. 

But the team also has the No. 2 pick in the draft and the chance to select a quarterback like Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or Trey Lance (assuming the Jacksonville Jaguars take Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick). 

It would be hard to blame the Jets for rolling the dice on a young quarterback and trading Darnold for trade assets given his struggles thus far. 

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The #Jets are planning to complete their evaluations of the top QBs in the NFL Draft before making any decisions on Sam Darnold, sources say. That includes Pro Days and interviews. While they’ve received real interest in Darnold, they want to get the full QB picture first.

Or the Jets could try to package a number of their draft picks to get into the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes if the Texans relent and trade him. They have plenty of work to do when it comes to building a competent roster around Watson in such a scenario, but there's no question he would be a massive upgrade at quarterback. 

So the Jets have options, even if Perine is hoping they stick with Darnold.