Late December Game In 2020 May Still Haunt New York Jets
Some New York Jets fans get chills down their spines when you bring up the 2020 season. The team started out a brutal 0-13. Head coach Adam Gase infuriated the Gang Green fanbase and was mocked on a daily basis by the New York sports media. Let's face it, the Jets hadn't won a Super Bowl in 50 years and 2020 seemed like rock bottom. Well, at least they would get the top pick in the NFL draft, right? Not so fast, in true New York Jets fashion, they pretty much screwed that up on December 27th of 2020, against the Cleveland Browns, a haunting game for a few reasons.
Take this Thursday night, for example. #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars, coming off leading his team to an impressive win over the Cowboys, faces off against the #2 overall pick that year, Zack Wilson of the Jets, desperately trying to cling onto every snap he can take. Two quarterbacks drafted back-to-back with, apparently, their careers projecting in different directions.
Turn the clock back to December 27, 2020. The game featured #1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Baker Mayfield, in the midst of leading his Cleveland Browns to an 11-5 season that year, taking on the #3 overall pick in 2018, New York Jets, Sam Darnold. Gang Green fans had already turned on Darnold. Even the completely legitimate excuse of having Adam Gase as his head coach couldn't save the quarterback out of USC. The fans wanted Darnold gone and the team to pick a new QB taken with the overall first pick in the draft. These two quarterbacks picked within two picks of each other and both careers projecting in different directions. The Jets were 1-13 coming into that game against the 10-4 Browns, New York was tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the worst record in the NFL.
The haunting part? In true Jets fashion, Darnold led the Jets to victory that day over Mayfield and the Browns. The win broke the tie between Jacksonville and the Jets for the worst record, basically giving the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes prize to the Jaguars. Second prize turned into Zack Wilson. Remember, two years ago Baker Mayfield was doing commercials and Cleveland and the NFL loved him. A year later, the Browns fans couldn't wait to get Baker out of town and he could barely find a job. I think Trevor Lawrence will have a lot more staying power in the NFL than Baker Mayfield but the point is you never know how good or how bad a player is by their draft pick position. Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick. There are no sure things...except if Sam Darnold and Adam Gase lost that game to the Browns as expected, Trevor Lawrence may have been leading the New York Jets to the playoffs in 2022.