Open Rants by Seahwaksfan97

Sam Darnold and the sunk cost theory
Published at 12/23/2020
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After the Jets shocking victory over the LA rams dropped New York to second overall in the draft order a real debate has started for how the Jets should use this pick. While Lawrence remains the clear decision for any team at one that has a shaky QB situation the second choice is less obvious for the Jets who have Sam Darnold a young QB with loads of potential but whose tenure has been filled with inconsistency and a lack of significant development. Many in the media/punditry class as well as Jets and NFL fans alike have already started to debate the many options for the Jets including:

-drafting Fields/Wilson or another QB later on in the draft

-Drafting Sewell or Chase and build around Darnold

-Trade down to stock pile picks to build around Darnold

This article however isn't about who the Jets should draft in 2021 but instead why the Jets need to avoid the sunk cost fallacy and move on from Sam Darnold and move on with another QB

What is the Sunk Cost Fallacy:

To begin it is firstly important to define what this fallacy is. In it's essence the SCF means that an individual or organization takes in account past resources spent into a decision making equation. An example of this being used can be the Bears decision to not move on from Mitchell Trubisky despite his subpar play and lack of improvement mostly as a fact of him being a former second overall pick in which the Bears parted with several draft picks to acquire him.

Why this fallacy hurts teams:

As these resources spent (Salary/draft picks) are unrecoverable it is pointless to factor them in any equation all that matters is the future. When you have a mediocre QB unless you can get him to become a better QB than any of the alternative prospects you can feasibly get in the draft than all you'll be doing is continuing to waste resources on trying to build around a QB that never will win you a SB only extending your time in purgatory. This example could easily be applied to other none QB positions.

To explain this in detail lets say the Jets draft Penei Sewell and Kyle Pitts (sub in another WR/RB if you want) in the 2021 draft well signing free agent WR Juju Smith-Schuster (similarly you can sub in another WR here) and some more talent on Defense at Edge and CB. Let's say these picks and signings work out with a competent coach the team improves greatly winning 7 to 9 games regardless of Darnolds improvement which let's say is poor. The team continues to improve over the next few years as the talent around Darnold continues to get better. This naturally leads to playoff appearances and maybe the occasional win. The SB alludes the team as Darnold is unable to win in key games.

However trouble hits in a couple years as Darnold's states show improvement management signs him to an extension. This means the team begins to hemorrhage talent as they simply can't afford to keep both their QB and talented supporting cast. As this happens the team begins to struggle likely missing the playoffs and enduring hardship as Darnold is unable to elevate the team to playoff contention. Sound familiar? 

Eventually the team cuts Sam and is forced to start over with an expensive supporting cast/many holes on both sides of the ball/no QB and no SB titles. The team ultimately wasted years of potential by sticking with their current QB instead of upgrading

Why the Jets should not try and see if Darnold can improve:

Trying to make it work with Darnold is a process that is likely to take a couple years to find out which the Jets simply don't have. Keep in mind Darnold has only one more year left before he gets a pay raise (5th year option) and two before the Jets would have to spend even more resources (extension/tag) to keep in town. Meaning even more resources could be wasted by the Jets unless he improves and a whole reset with a new QB is pushed back even further. While this might make sense if Darnold was actually playing well consistently; he simply hasn't showing many signs that he is likely to become a elite QB in the NFL. The Jets will have their choice of none Lawrence QBs which gives them a decent chance to find a upgrade over Darnold at the position. 

Word about potential talent

One thing I here about many QBs like Darnold is that they have lots of potential talent and this is thus seen as some reason to keep them around. While potential can never be ignored it needs to be empathized that all first rounders and many beyond are talented and this in its self is meaningless. Many QBs such as Leaf or Russell had loads of potential talent as well and yet never were developed. Potential needs to eventually yield results and after three years the results with Darnold are simply not there to want build around him long term.

The last point I'll make is that we have seen plenty of elite or very good QBs develop under bad coaches and or teams such as Watson/Stafford/Ryan/Newton/Luck etc. So bad coaching or a bad team can't be the a major excuse used by Darnold supporters.

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