Sam Darnold gets mono, finally becomes a true Jets QB

I can feel this photo in the depths of my bitter Jets soul, pointing and laughing at the last bit of hope and wondering just what the hell it will take to finally die. Their franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold, will miss multiple weeks thanks to mono; their journeyman backup, Trevor Siemian, badly injured his ankle and will miss the rest of the season. An injury to their third-stringer, Luke Falk, will leave their offense as nine offensive linemen, Le’Veon Bell, and Fireman Ed running the option.

Last Monday’s nationally televised implosion let the entire world in on the joke. The Jets lost 23-3 to the formerly moribund Cleveland Browns. The Jets’ defensive coordinator, best known for putting bounties out on opposing players and paying his players to injure them, picked a feud with Odell Beckham, Jr. before the game. You may know how that turned out.

A timeline of Jets quarterbacking misery

Since 2000, the Jets are 16-28 on primetime games (non-Sunday), according to Pro Football Reference. These games showcased the following collection of quarterbacks:

Vinny Testaverde
Chad Pennington
Quincy Carter
Brooks Bollinger
Kellen Clemens
Brett Favre
Mark Sanchez
Tim Tebow
Geno Smith
Michael Vick
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Bryce Petty
Josh McCown
Sam Darnold  
Trevor Siemian
Luke Falk

Nearly every single man on that list produced some moment of indelible sadness while playing in New York. 

  • Vinny Testaverde led the Jets to a 12-4 record in 1998 and an AFC Championship appearance. Next season, he ruptured his Achilles in the first game of the following season. Eight year old Mike went to this game and learned that Vinny would be out for the year from a large man with a portable radio at the old Giants Stadium.
  • Chad Pennington showed exceptional accuracy and huge promise, only to consistently tear every ligament in his shoulders. After the Jets cut him, he moved to Miami and won the AFC East title. This is the only time since 2003 that the Patriots did not win the division.
  • Kellen Clemens started for the Jets in a rare Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys. I hid in another room at my grandfathers’ house and watched the game secretly, as both my father and grandfather (huge Jets fans) refused to let the inevitable loss ruin the family event. The Jets lost 34-3. It was my 18th birthday. 
  • On my 22nd birthday, Mark Sanchez dove into the ample booty of Brandon Moore and buttfumbled his way into oblivion. 
  • In fact, the Jets are 1-5 on my birthday since 1989!

FItzmagic plays into the misery

  • After Ryan Fitzpatrick lit the world on fire and powered the most promising Jets season in 2015, I got caught up in the hype and bought a fake beard to put on this stuffed gingerbread man I’d won in Hershey Park.
  • Fitzmagic sat creepily in my living room. We watched the Jets claw to a 10-5 record, one game away from the playoffs. Instead, Fitz tossed multiple interceptions and blew the game in Buffalo to the former Jets coach Rex Ryan. Fitz would never produce meaningful football for the franchise again. Two years later, I moved out of my apartment, and found this in my closet.

Send that image to anyone who needs to know how it feels to root for this team. 

sam Darnold has mono. what’s next?

On Sunday, the Jets travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots, the ruthlessly efficient monstrosity that wins every Super Bowl and ignores modern concepts like decency, morality, or not employing psychotic men accused of sexual assault and doing the world’s worst background check.

They’re currently 23 point underdogs.

Per Pro Football Reference, since 2000 the Jets lost by that margin six times to the Pats: 2002, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2016, and 2018. Three of those games happened in at home, with one being the beloved Buttfumble Classic. The 2018 beatdown came in Foxboro in week 17, where the Jets lost 38-3 in Todd Bowles’ last game as head coach. They very much possess the skill and capacity to permit the Patriots to cover that spread.

I have been a Jets fan for twenty-five years–excusing a childhood obsession with the Super Bowl winners–and that time taught me the truth of Jets fandom.

This well of sadness has no bottom and no way out. What is dead may never die.

Sunday will bring Tom Brady’s dumb grin, multiple Antonio Brown touchdowns before he’s hopefully suspended forever, and potentially even a grumble from Bill Belichick. The Jets may not cross into Patriots territory until the fourth quarter. Le’Veon Bell will somehow catch 14 passes for -12 yards while poor Jamal Adams tries to cover six different wide-open receivers. Your RedZone stream will just have an always-on box in the top corner highlighting the Patriots’ strolls into the endzone.

Take the points, play every Patriot in fantasy, and when you’re raking in the cash and the glory, just be a little bit nicer to the fans in green. Sam Darnold might have mono, but we’re stuck with the Jets.

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