Late December 2020 game may still haunt the New York Jets

Some New York Jets fans get chills when you think about the 2020 season. The team started a brutal 0-13. Head coach Adam Gase infuriated the Gang Green fan base and was mocked daily by the New York sports media. Let’s face it, the Jets hadn’t won a Super Bowl in 50 years and 2020 seemed to be at a low point. Well, at least they would get the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, right? Not so fast, New York Jets style, they pretty much screwed up on Dec. 27, 2020, against the Cleveland Browns, a haunting game for several reasons.

Take this Thursday night, for example. No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who led his team to an impressive win over the Cowboys, takes on No. 2 pick that year, Zack Wilson of the Jets, desperately trying to cling to every snap he can take. Two quarterbacks drafted back to back with, apparently, their careers heading in different directions.

Go back in time to December 27, 2020. The game featured 2018 first draft pick Baker Mayfield as he led his Cleveland Browns to an 11-5 season that year, taking the third overall pick in 2018, New York Jets, Sam Darnold. Gang Green fans had already turned on Darnold. Even the perfectly legitimate excuse of having Adam Gase as head coach couldn’t save the USC quarterback. Fans wanted Darnold to leave and the team to pick a new QB taken with the first pick in the draft. These two quarterbacks have two choices apart and the two careers are heading in different directions. The Jets were 1-13 heading into that game against the Browns 10-4, New York tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the NFL’s worst record.

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, essentially giving the Trevor Lawrence contest prize to the Jaguars. The second prize became Zack Wilson. Remember, two years ago Baker Mayfield was doing commercials and Cleveland and the NFL loved it. A year later, Browns fans were itching to get Baker out of town, and he could barely find a job. I think Trevor Lawrence will have a lot more stamina in the NFL than Baker Mayfield, but the thing is, you never know how good or bad a player is based on their pick position in the draft. Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick. There are no sure things…unless Sam Darnold and Adam Gase lost this game to the Browns as expected, Trevor Lawrence may have led the New York Jets to the playoffs in 2022.

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