Six days before the Jets' Week 2 matchup with the Cleveland Browns, Trevor Siemian learned he was getting the start at quarterback. With Sam Darnold sidelined for at least this Monday (and likely multiple weeks) with mono, the reigns of Adam Gase's offense are now in the hands of the 27-year-old veteran.
"Coach Gase gave me a call and said they were trying to figure out what was going on with Sam but to be ready. Got the news last night," Siemian said on Thursday.
"I honestly felt for Sam. That's a tough deal, man. Just because I've seen him, since I've been here the last several months, put his heart soul and mind into this. It's been kind of rewarding for me, because I feel like I was a young player and seeing (Darnold's) progress from Year 1 to Year 2, I was excited for him and I still am."
"He's not going anywhere. He'll be back soon, but that was the first thing I thought of, feeling for Sam and hoping he makes a speedy recovery."
With a 13-11 career record in the NFL, Siemian brings some NFL experience with him into the Jets' huddle. All of those games, though, came with the Broncos, as he then spent last season in Minnesota behind Kirk Cousins without seeing the field during the regular season.
Still, the Northwestern product, who has thrown for 5,686 yards with 30 TDs and 24 INTs in his career, is ready to make his 2019 debut in prime time, thanks in part to the fact that he can rely on the playmakers around him.
"Just do my job, run a clean operation, and get the ball in the end zone. It's pretty simple," said Siemian.
"We have so many talented players that I'm going to lean on, Jamison (Crowder), Robby (Anderson), Ryan (Kalil), everybody up front has a ton of experience, so I'm fortunate in that sense. I can lean on these guys and it makes my job pretty simple.
"I'm champing at the bit to compete and be out there with the guys. I'll just say I feel comfortable. … I'm excited to play this week, I'll say that.
The news of Darnold's illness seemed to come out of left field. The second-year QB did not practice on Wednesday, and his mono diagnosis as announced on Thursday morning. Playing a Cleveland team looking to avenge a poor Week 1 performance, the Jets will now have the extra challenge of trying to secure their first win of the season without their starting signal-caller.
But Siemian believes the Jets have the right mental makeup to not skip a beat.
"We've got such a mentally tough team and so many good players. These guys are built for this," Siemian said. "Sam, I know he's not hurt, but we're going to have a couple injuries this year, that's just the nature of it, but this team is built to handle it."