FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Adam Gase isn’t concerned about Sam Darnold’s life being in danger when he plays his first game in more than a month on Sunday.
Darnold was medically cleared for contact Tuesday from his bout with mono. Darnold has felt well enough to play, but his spleen was enlarged and needed to be reduced before he could return to full football activities.
“We should be good,” Gase said Thursday morning. “We should not have him dying on the field.”
Darnold has been itching to play and thought he would be cleared last week, but he said he wanted to make sure he was safe. “I’m not going to die,” Darnold said last week.
He will wear custom-made padding that protects his spleen. But the offensive line needs to do a better job of protecting the quarterback than it has this season.
The Jets have allowed a league-leading 23 sacks in four games. The Eagles sacked Luke Falk nine times and David Fales once last Sunday. Gase said it wasn’t just the offensive line’s fault, though.
“We need to do a better job protecting the quarterback and we need to get the ball out on time,” Gase said. “We need to run the right routes, it’s got to be all of us, it’s got to be the right play call. We have to do a better job as an entire unit. That will help the quarterback.
“It’s all of us. I’m telling you, there was two play calls where I didn’t put us in a good spot. There was nobody open. We took a shot with eight-man protection. Nobody was open. They played coverage. It’s all of us. We got to do a better job.”
Overall, the Jets have struggled without Darnold, producing just one touchdown and one field goal in the last three games. Gase believes Darnold will be able to help that and cover some of the protection issues the Jets have had.
“He has the ability to get the ball out quick, the ability to move,” Gase said. “He breaks the pocket, he’s a threat to run. His pocket feel, he’s played with those quite a bit to where he feels things and he’s out of there. He has a good feel for what to do.”
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