By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sustained greatness is rare in the NFL, but it’s something that can be achieved a number of different ways. It generally requires vision, defined leadership, bold decision-making, and a little bit of luck sprinkled in along the way. Even then, some of the best plans in the NFL can ultimately prove to not be enough for a team to make the leap to true greatness.
The New York Jets, though, believe they’ve got the magic potion. And its name is Sam Darnold.
In a public comment that was made last week but did not receive nearly the amount of attention it deserved, New York Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said that after drafting the former USC quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick in April, the entirety of the Jets franchise has been turned around.
“I think people are going to look back — I honestly think they’re going to look back 20 years from now — and say this is the moment the Jets shifted into a new year, that they became a great team,” Johnson said.
Wait … what?!
Let’s run it again, this time, a little slower:
“I think people are going to look back.”
“I honestly think they’re going to look back 20 years from now … “
“And say this is the moment … “
Where is this going?
“The Jets shifted into a new year.”
“That they became a great team.”
This is so outrageous. The most outrageous.
This is a Jets franchise that has gone 46-66 over the past seven years, a stretch that includes zero postseason appearances. This is a franchise that has played in just 12 postseason games since the Y2K scare and has gone 6-6 in those games. This is a franchise that has not won a Super Bowl since the week before Richard Nixon took office. This is a franchise that has not even made it to a Super Bowl … since that same date. In January of 1969. Nearly 50 full years ago.
But it’s all going to change now, because the Jets are the first team ever to draft a quarterback with a high pick. Problem solved. Smooth sailing. Put it on the board — another touchdown for the Newwwwww York Jets.
Oh, but that is right. The Jets actually once drafted a quarterback in the top five … a quarterback from USC actually … the Jets traded up to get him … much like they did with Darnold … and back then, hopes were high … they were very high. His name was Mark Sanchez, and things went well for a little while … until they didn’t … and he ran into a butt … and fumbled. That was not the moment that the Jets became a great team.
OK, but that’s just one example. Surely, every other team that has used a top-10 draft pick to select a quarterback has instantly gone on to become a great team for two decades. That is how this works, I assume.
As an exercise, let’s look at all of the quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 since the year 2000. I’m sure we’ll see nothing but Super Bowl champs and perennial MVP candidates. Let’s go!
1. Jared Goff, Rams
2. Carson Wentz, Eagles
1. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
2. Marcus Mariota, Titans
3. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
1. Andrew Luck, Colts
2. Robert Griffin III, Redskins
8. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
1. Cam Newton, Panthers
8. Jake Locker, Titans
10. Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
1. Sam Bradford, Rams
1. Matthew Stafford, Lions
5. Mark Sanchez, Jets
3. Matt Ryan, Falcons
1. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders
3. Vince Young, Titans
10. Matt Leinart, Cardinals
1. Alex Smith, 49ers
1. Eli Manning, Giants (though technically, the Chargers first)
4. Philip Rivers, Chargers (ditto, but the opposite)
1. Carson Palmer, Bengals
7. Byron Leftwich, Jaguars
1. David Carr, Texans
3. Joey Harrington, Lions
1. Michael Vick, Falcons
Woo, doggy! That’s a heavy-duty list right there. Twenty-seven quarterbacks, twenty-seven franchises saved. What a beautiful thing.
Of those 27 quarterbacks, here’s a complete list of how many of them won Super Bowls as the starting quarterback for their team:
And … hey, where’s the rest of the list?! Surely, there’s got to be more. No? No, OK then. Well, fine, here’s the long list of those top-10 quarterbacks who have either won a Super Bowl or at least played in a Super Bowl and lost:
But … I thought … wait … I thought … no, this can’t be right.
Alas, it appears to be the reality. Turns out, even when an organization believes in a quarterback enough to invest a top-10 pick in him, franchises can’t just turn around in an instant. Dozens of times over the years, teams have had moments of giddy celebration in their war rooms — much like the one described by Albert Breer on The MMQB, where Jets executives sat in stunned elation that their dreams had been realized on draft night. Much more often than not, that player doesn’t pan out the way they initially envisioned.
Maybe Darnold will be one of the few who does develop into a franchise quarterback, who does bring stability to a Jets franchise that badly needs it, who does deliver a Super Bowl or two to the Jets. But coming out now, in the month of May, and pinning these grandiose hopes and expectations on his 20-year-old shoulders to be a savior? Woof. No pressure, kid. It’s just New York City.