From one New York Jets and USC Trojans quarterback to another, Mark Sanchez has some advice for Sam Darnold.
In an appearance on the New York Post's 'Gang's All Here' podcast, the former Jets first-rounder said he feels for Darnold, acknowledging the "impossible" situation the quarterback is in the process of going through.
"There’s just so much uncertainty that it’s almost impossible for a quarterback to have success with all those circumstances. I feel for him,” Sanchez said.
New York is off to an 0-9 start this season, sitting in the NFL's cellar in countless statistical categories. Looking on from his current role as an NFL analyst for ESPN, after 10 years in the league, Sanchez called New York a "triple-threat in the wrong direction."
“Part of it is that there’s just nothing working in their favor right now, right?” Sanchez said. “It’s not a real veteran group, it’s not guys who played together for a long time and there isn’t just a star-studded cast that can figure it out or just use their talent and make plays."
With the Jets' record and Darnold's enduring right shoulder injury in mind—as the 23-year-old will miss his fourth game of the year on Sunday—Sanchez's advice is for the young quarterback to think long and hard if he should play the rest of this season.
“Because of the way things have transpired, he’s got to make some serious decisions about the longevity of his career and whether or not playing the rest of this year is even worth it,” he said. “If it’s in his best interest. If this season is at a loss, which it looks like already. It’s not like they’re going to turn around and make a playoff run. Now you get into these tough decisions as a competitor thinking, ‘Man, maybe my time’s up here and that’s okay. Maybe it’s best for both sides to move on.’”
Sanchez was drafted fifth overall by New York in 2009 and had an immediate impact in green and white. He led the Jets to the AFC Championship in both of his first two seasons and didn't experience a losing record until his fourth year in the league.
Darnold, on the other hand, is 11-21 to start his NFL career.
Sanchez's situation may have played out differently as he transitioned from college to the pros, but he still understands the pressure that Darnold is under to perform at a high level right away out of school.
“You sign this huge deal, just like I did, and you are now, overnight, expected – I was 21, 22 at the time – you just overnight are expected after signing this $50 million dollar deal with the Jets as their franchise quarterback to somehow fast forward in the future and have the discernment and wisdom of a 65-year-old Supreme Court Justice. And that’s just not the way it works,” Sanchez explained.
On pace to secure the first pick of next spring's draft, the Jets are the favorites to get their hands on Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. Even if Jets general manager Joe Douglas views Darnold as this organization's "quarterback for the future," if Lawrence puts on a Jets cap on draft night, you have to figure Darnold's tenure in New York will be over.
Sanchez went on to play for three teams after his four-year stint with New York. He was never able to shine in another uniform.
For a "franchise player" like Darnold, a change of scenery may be exactly what he needs.
“In my opinion – and obviously I’m biased, he’s a USC guy, he’s a So-Cal guy – I think he’s a great player," Sanchez said. "He’s a franchise player. I think he’s somebody you invest in … He just hasn’t been able to do it there.”