Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
A lot has happened over the last seven days, but -- just as it seemed like things might finally start to settle down -- news broke that is likely to have wider-reaching consequences than everything that came before it.
Having been diagnosed with mononucleosis, Sam Darnold will miss Monday night's game and will almost certainly miss next Sunday's divisional clash with the New England Patriots. Although the bye week follows that, the possibility remains that he could end up missing more than just those two games.
This brings backup Trevor Siemian into the spotlight. Siemian, who was signed during the offseason, is now the starter with Luke Falk set to be activated from the practice squad to back him up. Both put up solid numbers in preseason, albeit with and against backups and mostly by "dinking and dunking."
Siemian, a former seventh-round pick, had the Broncos in postseason contention in 2016, winning eight of his 14 starts. However, they fell short despite an 8-4 start. His numbers weren't as good in 2017 and he was benched after 10 games, but still managed to win five of them.
Of course, to win these games, Siemian had to manage the game and lean on his defense and running game. He's only thrown for 300 yards four times, with three of those performances being in losses, and never for 400.
In theory, the Jets are equipped to be that kind of team, though. While head coach Adam Gase favors a passing attack, he won games in Miami with passing game personnel missing and the Jets have Le'Veon Bell and a defense that can potentially keep them in games if key players remain healthy.
In terms of skillset, Siemian doesn't have any glaring weaknesses or things that he tends to do better than Darnold, so it would be unlikely that the offensive system changes much. Siemian's arm isn't as strong and he's not as mobile as Darnold, but he's capable of hitting on deep balls and can move around the pocket to extend plays at times.
Gase was criticized for the conservative approach the Jets had in the season opener, and there was an expectation they might start to open up the playbook over the next few games. However, that might now have to wait until Darnold returns because they would be wise not to take too many risks with Siemian who can be prone to mistakes when he tries to do too much.
Siemian arrived in Denver after Gase left, so he's not necessarily going to have any better of a comfort level in the system than Darnold did. However, he played two seasons with Demaryius Thomas, so there's at least one player who he'll have good chemistry with that has proven he can be productive with Siemian under center. In fact, when Siemian started 14 games in 2016, the Broncos had two 1,000-yard receivers so he's capable of getting multiple players involved.
Being brutally honest, even though Gase went to great lengths to defend his performance, Darnold did not play well on Sunday. But the Jets probably would have won comfortably if not for the C.J. Mosley injury. Therefore, if Siemian can come in and play well, there may not be much of an immediate downgrade.
While Darnold is the ascending star with all the talent in the world, he has aspects of his game that are still a work in progress. Siemian, on the other hand, has shown he can perform at a level of base competence and was good enough in Denver to keep the ship afloat, so they remained competitive with him at the helm. Maybe that consistency is just what they Jets' offense needs right now.
An 0-3 start was a possibility even if Darnold was healthy, and can now probably be considered a likelihood. However, you never know how the rest of the disparate parts of this team will respond to the adversity.
Even if the Jets do fall to 0-3, that's not a death sentence for their postseason chances. With so many new players and a new system on either side of the ball, the Jets will be expecting to improve over the course of the season, with some easier games coming up.
Siemian is, in many ways, the ideal backup. He has a winning record as a starter and a good enough skillset to make use of the weapons at his disposal, even if things are simplified for him so he can play more of a game manager role. Expectations will be low, though, so anything he can provide them with to keep the Jets competitive will be a bonus.