NFL Football Betting: Update on New York Jets Quarterback Situation

Written by:
C Costigan
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Yesterday’s article discussed New York Jets starting quarterback Sam Darnold and his mononucleosis diagnosis.  We also talked about ‘illness outbreaks’ in other sports.  In our next article we’ll look at the ‘macro’ of handicapping injuries in the NFL (and sports betting in general) but with more clarity around the Jets’ quarterbacking situation we have a better idea of what will transpire during the immediate future.

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No real update on Darnold today which is to be expected.  There’s not much that can be done to treat mono other than using ‘over the counter’ medications to deal with the various symptoms.  Additionally, the old adage about ‘drink plenty of liquids’ definitely applies here.  This is one area where Darnold likely has an edge over a ‘garden variety’ mono patient as he’s likely getting pumped full of fluids via IV to keep him well hydrated.

The injury report on Darnold was updated yesterday but reveals nothing more than we already know.  With the indication that the Jets’ QB is sidelined due to ‘illness’ there’s nothing mentioned beyond the immediate implications:

“Did Not Practice on Thursday. Out for Week 2 vs. Cleveland”

New York did get some much needed good news on the injury front—the MRI on Le’Veon Bell’s shoulder was negative and did not reveal any significant damage.  He’s listed as ‘questionable’ though it would be a surprise if he didn’t play and particularly with the Jets’ situation at quarterback.  Even if he does play it’s apparent that Ty Montgomery will see more action at running back than he did in the first week of the season.  The Jets used Montgomery on just five snaps in Week 1 against Buffalo netting two carries for four yards.

Another small piece of good news came out on Friday morning as head coach Adam Gase clarified that Darnold will not be headed to the injured reserved list.  That’s a hopeful sign at least for now and suggests that Darnold is not being hit as hard by his illness as he could have been.  Then again, part of the problem with mono is the ‘residual symptoms’ of fatigue and a swollen spleen.  Should Darnold experience issues with either of these ‘post illness’ symptoms he could be out for several more weeks in which the Jets might reconsider their decision not to put him on the IR.


Trevor Siemian will start Monday night against the Cleveland Browns. What’s interesting about the huge line move in reaction to the news which saw the price at move from the opening number of -2.5 to the current price of 6.5 is that it’s unclear how much actual drop off there will be from Darnold to Siemian.  Were you to just look at statistics for ‘Quarterback A’ and ‘Quarterback B’ you could very well conclude that Siemian is the better quarterback.  He’s definitely got more experience as a NFL starter.  In Siemian’s rookie season (2015) he was third on the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos’ depth chart behind backup Brock Osweiler and a pretty fair starting quarterback named Peyton Manning.  He took over as the team’s starter in 2016 and 2017 with a 13-11 record. During his two seasons as the Broncos’ starting quarterback he completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 5,686 yards with 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.  Siemian has nearly twice as many NFL starts as Darnold and their quarterback ratings are nearly identical—78.3 for Darnold, 79.9 for Siemian.

So how did Siemian go from NFL starting quarterback to backup?  Like many young NFL quarterbacks he struggled with his consistency.  A bigger issue was a pair of shoulder injuries including one in his 10th start of the 2017 season that sidelined him for the rest of the year.  He spent 2018 as a backup to Kirk Cousins in Minnesota but saw no playing time.  On March 20, 2019, Siemian signed a one year deal with the Jets worth $2 million USD.  After he was announced as the Jets starter for Week 2 head coach Gase gave him a vote of confidence:

"We signed Trevor specifically for his 24 starts over his career with a winning record. He has a lot of experience. He's been on winning ball clubs. He has the respect of the locker room. The reaction I got and the way that guys looked at it was, 'Let's go.' There's confidence there."

Gase’s observation about the ‘respect of the locker room’ and the ‘confidence’ of his teammates isn’t just hyperbole.  That’s part of the job description of being a backup quarterback in the National Football League.  The reality is that the majority of NFL backups are pretty good quarterbacks.  Even so, that doesn’t stop the betting public from a serious overreaction when a starter goes out.  Witness the hysterics over Andrew Luck’s retirement.  The Colts overnight went from a Super Bowl contender to a team that—based on public reaction—would probably find the going tough in the XFL.

This all happened despite the knowledge that prior to Luck’s retirement Jacoby Brissett was considered to be among the best backups in the NFL.  Brissett was drafted by Bill Belichick in New England and served as Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup during Tom Brady’s four game suspension at the start of the 2016 season.  Despite the fact that Brissett had the respect not only of Luck, Colts’ head coach Frank Reich and the Indy locker room but Belichick, Brady and the Patriots’ locker room the public still (over)reacted to him becoming the starting quarterback.

One big upside to Trevor Siemian—he ranks right at the top with Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick as one of the smartest quarterbacks in the NFL.  He graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA and was a member of the National Honors Society.  He was admitted to Harvard—along with Rutgers and North Carolina State—but decided to attend Northwestern University.

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