LOS ANGELES – Every day there is speculation about what will happen to Sam Darnold. Will he continue to play for the Jets in 2021? Will it be exchanged? Everybody wants to know.
Meanwhile, the subject of that endless silent sports radio discussion is about his off-season business at his home in Southern California.
According to close confidants, Darnold, who has been in a Jets career for three years that has been anything but a success since being selected No. 3 overall in 2018, has been handling his career uncertainty with the same no-nonsense maturity with the one who has driven the field of adversity.
Jordan Palmer is a longtime friend of Darnold and is also his offseason quarterback coach, the founder of QB Summit, a widely advertised training program that has helped develop the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Josh. Allen.
Palmer, in an exclusive interview with The Post during a break from one of his beach training sessions last weekend in Dana Point, California, remains highly optimistic about Darnold’s career.
“I’m as biased as it sounds, but I’ll keep it [bleeping] real here: I’m more confident in Sam at this point in his career that he’s going to reach his potential than I did three years ago, ” Palmer said. “It has been toughened by how difficult its first three years have been and some of the challenges it has had. I’ve seen him grow a lot with that with the way he’s handled it.
“They are new situations for him. He hadn’t been on a team that wasn’t winning. He’s always been a really good player on a really good team. And that’s not how the first three years with the Jets have shaken.
“I think Sam is one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league, and like all good, talented quarterbacks, he should have a great offseason and get better.”
Palmer praised how Darnold has finished the past two seasons, going 6-2 in the last eight games of 2019 after the team started 1-7 and going 2-1 last season after the 0-13 start.
“My logo is a summit, a mountain range,” Palmer said. “That is your journey. I have not seen a quarterback go from the bottom up – perfect, amazing, in the end you get the championship and all the money and congratulations. What the guys have to do is navigate their journey. ”
Former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is another close confidant of Darnold, who has also been trained by Palmer and still works with him on occasion. Sanchez said his interest in the Jets lives on “because of Sam.”
“He is my neighbor, I love the boy and I want him to do well … and he is in the center,” Sánchez told The Post. “I’ve been literally where he is: hit shoulder, trying to fight injuries, is he playing, is he not playing? We have some eerily similar situations – two kids who grew up on the same street facing each other. ”
Sánchez’s career arc was the complete opposite of Darnold’s to date, as Sánchez had his best early success and struggled afterward. Sánchez’s hope is that Darnold’s career is a reversed version of his.
“We came into the league with two very different teams,” Sanchez said. “Sam was drafted high because the team was not good the year before. They selected me high because they traded for me and were 9-7 the year before I arrived. So, I was able to go to a team that had a lot of talent and a great offensive line. ”
Sánchez said he is constantly “offering some of my advice” to Darnold, reminding him, “Dude, I’m here for you.”
Sánchez, like Palmer, is convinced that Darnold’s best football is ahead of him, but believes that it is better for that to come with a change of scenery. Sánchez has lived in a Jets world where perceptions among fans are consolidated and cannot be survived.
Sanchez, however, believes Darnold wants to stay with the Jets, start over with the new coaching regimen, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
Palmer is divided on that issue.
“A part of me wants Sam to finish what he started and get it right, and a part of me would love to see him change the scene, because I’ve seen that work really well for others,” Palmer said. “This league is a league in the right place at the right time and a league in the wrong place at the wrong time. The right guy in the right situation has a chance to be in the mix at the end.
“With Sam, it just hasn’t happened yet, and it will. And I can honestly say this year could be the right time and place with the Jets. Or it could be somewhere else. ”