Rest of season will be referendum on Sam Darnold’s Jets future

Sam Darnold knows the deal. He has heard plenty about this Trevor Lawrence fellow. And so this is now a seven-game referendum on his Jets future. Or less, depending on when his sprained throwing

Sam Darnold knows the deal. He has heard plenty about this Trevor Lawrence fellow.

And so this is now a seven-game referendum on his Jets future.

Or less, depending on when his sprained throwing shoulder will consent.

Which means that Darnold has a two-pronged battle on his hands:

Making absolutely sure that he is not jeopardizing his future by rushing back in an attempt to preserve it.

And if it is determined that he is not, after the rehab and a throwing regimen and after a myriad of medical opinions are in, he wins enough games to prevent GM Joe Douglas from securing the first-overall pick to use on Trevor Lawrence.

Because you can etch it in stone that Douglas will not — and must not — pass on Trevor Lawrence (and probably Justin Fields with the second-overall pick).

“It’s getting better every day,” Darnold said.

“I think this next week-and-a-half, two weeks is gonna be key to letting this thing recover and heal all the way so I can finish up the season strong.”

Sam Darnold is seen against the Buffalo BillsCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

You can only wonder what Darnold might have been thinking on Monday night watching the bombs bursting in air that gave proof through the night that Joe Flacco’s arm was still there.

There was Breshad Perriman finally on the field long enough to make Jets fans forget, for one night, that Robby Anderson was free to sign for $2 million more with the Panthers.

And there was Denzel Mims, in his third NFL game, keeping the Patriots secondary honest with the natural gifts that compelled Douglas to draft him in the second round.

And so there was less of a need for Jamison Crowder to do Jamison Crowder things.

Poor Darnold has never had his Three Amigos on the field together this season, and he has paid the price in terms of his development.

“He’s a young kid that has a lot of talent, that has a lot ahead of him, so he definitely has to be smart with this, make sure he makes the right decision in terms of staying patient and not feeling like he’s gotta be itching to get back out there,” said Flacco, who weathered shoulder soreness in 2016 with the Ravens.

“The problem with us as football players, you’re looking to get back out there and you’re looking to run your team and lead your guys, so you’re dealing with that battle,” Flacco said. “Hopefully he listens to everybody, listens to myself and stays as patient as he has to on this one.”

No one doubts Darnold’s toughness. He’s been snakebit during his three years, but if it’s strictly a matter of pain tolerance where it doesn’t affect his throwing, he will push to play, and it wouldn’t matter if the Jets were 9-0 either.

Adam Gase is optimistic that Darnold can return against the Chargers if all goes well from here.

“He’s feeling better,” Gase said. “We’ll keep working through his progression with the trainers. He’s focused on trying to play this next game. I’m not really sure where that’ll end up, but I know that he’s doing everything he can to try to make himself available.”

When Gase was asked about Flacco’s attempted kill-shot downfield for Mims that was intercepted in the fourth quarter, he said: “We tried to put the ball in the hands of the guy that was probably playing the best out of everyone.”

Sam Darnold needs to be that guy if he can over these last seven games. Every Sunday will be Super Sunday for him.

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