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Joe Douglas Endorses Sam Darnold as Jets' 'Quarterback for the Future'

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The winless Jets are on pace to have the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft. 

In other words, New York's ineptitudes on and off the field are providing this franchise with the inside track to selecting Clemson's Trevor Lawrence next spring, the presumptive top pick.

It's no surprise then that Jets general manager Joe Douglas raised some eyebrows on Tuesday when he endorsed Sam Darnold as New York's future at the quarterback position.

"I have no problem saying that he's our best quarterback and our quarterback for the future," Douglas told reporters on a Zoom call. 

READ: Jets' Joe Douglas: Adam Gase is Part of the Solution

Darnold may be "ultra-talented" as Douglas calls him, but saying the 23-year-old has struggled this year would be an understatement. 

In his third season in the NFL, Darnold has the worst quarterback rating of his career (65.9). It took until Sunday's beatdown in Kansas City for the signal caller to eclipse 1,000 yards passing on the season (1,045). He's completed just 58.6 percent of his passes (112-for-191) and has thrown just three touchdowns through six games (and six losses). 

There are 33 other quarterbacks across the NFL this year that have more touchdown passes than Darnold. 

Sure, those numbers don't tell the entire story. Both Darnold and the Jets' receivers have been banged up so far in 2020. After all, Darnold did miss two weeks after spraining an AC joint in his throwing shoulder, an injury he aggravated on Sunday. Plus, he's only 23 and still learning.

That said, how could Douglas have such faith in a player leading an offense that has an 0-8 record?

According to the GM, the Jets need to do a better job of surrounding Darnold with other talented players to help him succeed. Douglas believes that by protecting Darnold, and giving him skillful teammates on the offensive side of the ball, No. 14 can be the quarterback that drives New York back to contention.

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Failure to bolster the roster with weapons alongside Darnold—both this year and in years past—starts at the top and with Douglas himself.

"Sam's played with a different set of wide receivers every week. We've had almost a different offensive line out there every week. So, it's important to surround any quarterback with talent," Douglas explained. "I think you see the flashes of what he can be and they're really special. Let's not forget that Sam is a 23-year-old quarterback that is maybe one of the toughest quarterbacks I've ever been around. I'm very excited about Sam."

READ: Adam Gase on Jets Selling at Deadline: 'That's What Happens When You Don't Win'

Despite having cap space to work with in free agency for next season, Douglas made it clear that his vision going forward is to build through the draft and by developing those players. Think the next wave of players like Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims and Quinnen Williams.

After several trade deadline moves over the last few weeks, New York has a surplus of draft capital for years to come.

Should Gang Green go on to secure the top pick in next year's draft, they'll be able to select not only the perceived best available player on the board, but possibly a generational talent in Lawrence. Nonetheless, Douglas refused to address Lawrence directly and didn't reveal any specific draft plans.

Only time will tell if the Jets end up securing the No. 1 pick and what the franchise will do with it. In the meantime, Douglas, head coach Adam Gase and the Jets' players are focused on improving each week and trying to win one game at a time. 

That includes giving an opportunity for Darnold to bounce back after his performance in the first half of the season.

"Ultimately I've got to do a better job of putting talent around Sam, and we have to develop some kind of continuity within the offense moving forward," Douglas said. "The silver lining is that there's eight games left and we have guys getting back healthy. So hopefully we can do that over the last eight weeks of the season."

If the Jets keep this up, Douglas' claim that Darnold is the "quarterback for the future" will be put to the test.

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