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2020 NFL team previews: Will Sam Darnold ever become the quarterback the New York Jets want him to be?

The Jets young quarterback has looked nothing like a franchise guy after two seasons. 2020 could be his last chance.

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Drafting a quarterback with a top-five pick is one of the most exciting moments possible for a franchise. It is a moment of promise, hope, and potential. No matter what happens from there, it becomes a franchise-altering moment that fans will be looking back to for the next decade (at least).

New York Jets fans got that moment in 2018 when the team selected Sam Darnold out of Southern Cal with the third overall pick in the draft. The quarterback certainly had problems coming out of college, but his raw talent excited the many that ranked him as the top quarterback of his class.

Now two years later, the excitement is all but gone, and we are instead left wondering whether or not Darnold will ever live up to the hype. The quarterback has been awful in his first two seasons, struggled with injuries, and has only won 11 games. If he does not finally take the next step in 2020, then he may not ever.

The NFL season is almost upon us! Over the next few weeks I will be previewing each of the 32 NFL teams, and ranking them 1-32 as to how likely I believe they are to win Super Bowl LV. This week we are starting at the bottom.

Previously:

32. Washington Football Team
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Cincinnati Bengals
29. Chicago Bears

28. New York Jets

NFL: NOV 10 Giants at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Darnold’s introduction to the NFL has not been a very pretty one. He has statistically been among the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL since he entered the league in 2018. The young quarterback has also played some absolutely awful games throughout his career, including a 2019 game against the New England Patriots where it looked like he did not even belong in the NFL. Many try to blame Darnold’s failures on his supporting cast, but if that is the case, then it is unlikely he performs particularly well this season either.

The addition of Mekhi Becton in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft should help what was one of the league's worst offensive lines last season, but one man cannot do it on his own. Greg Van Roten, maybe the worst member of the Carolina Panthers offensive line, was added and is set to start as well.

Robby Anderson, the team's best wideout last season, is now in Carolina. That leaves Jamison Crowder virtually alone. Rookie second -ound pick Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman could become decent second options, but it is hard to put much stock in either. Le’Veon Bell is still around, too, though he clearly is no longer the dominant offensive weapon he once was for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That leaves it up to Darnold once again. If New York plans on winning games and competing for a playoff spot this year, then they will need Darnold—a player who has yet to even prove he belongs in the league—to make the offense into more that the sum of its parts.

The defense has suffered a few key losses as well. Safety Jamal Adams was dealt to the Seattle Seahawks after a long-running conflict with head coach Adam Gase. Linebacker C.J. Mosley—a prized free agent signing from 2019—has opted out of the season. A defense that almost single handedly carried the team to victories last year will be without two of its top players.

That leaves Marcus Maye, the safety who seemingly put it all together last year, as the new face of the defense, but he may get some help.

Quinnen Williams, the defensive tackle who was selected third overall in 2019, may finally put things together himself and regularly contribute up front. Cornerback Pierre Desir was a revelation in 2018, and if he can return to that form now that he is with the Jets, he could prove to be a huge player for this team.

Still, though, the Jets are a team that only went 8-8 last year off of the back of their defense that now lost two top players. They are worse than last year on both sides of the ball, and it is slowly becoming apparent that their quarterback is not a guy that can single handedly change their situation.

Darnold is yet to succeed in his career, and there is nothing really telling us that he will succeed this year either.