NEW YORK JETS
QB SAM DARNOLD hopes to be back from mono after missing two games, thanks to an early Jets bye. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com:
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, diagnosed last week with mononucleosis, said he feels better and hopes to return to the lineup in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“That’s the goal for me and that’s what the doctors are estimating,” Darnold said Tuesday during his weekly spot on ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show.
That timetable would mean he’d have to miss only one more game, this Sunday against the New England Patriots. The Jets (0-2) have their bye in Week 4.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he got ill, Darnold sounded in good spirits, saying doctors allowed him to return to the Jets’ facility on Tuesday. He can attend meetings with his teammates and coaches, but he’s not allowed yet to participate in physical activity.
“I’m back doing normal things,” he said. “It’s just not being able to work out or get my blood pressure up in any way.”
Darnold, 22, confirmed that his spleen is enlarged, a common symptom of mono. Another is weight loss, but he has dropped only two pounds because he started eating extra meals and snacks as soon as he learned of the diagnosis. That, he believes, will allow him to stay in relatively good football shape during his layoff.
With QB TREVOR SIEMIAN done for the year with his broken ankle, QB LUKE FALK makes his first start this week against New England. Nice headline at ESPN.com on the new QB signing:
When all else Fales: Jets add QB to back up Falk
The New York Jets signed quarterback David Fales to back up Luke Falk for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, the team announced.
The Jets (0-2) have been left to scramble at the quarterback position with starter Sam Darnold sidelined with mononucleosis. He missed Monday’s 23-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns and will miss Sunday’s game at New England as well. He said Tuesday during his weekly spot on ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show that he is feeling better and his goal is to return for the Jets’ Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Jets have a bye in Week 4.
Trevor Siemian started Monday night’s game but was lost for the season when he suffered torn ligaments in his left ankle on a late hit by the Browns’ Myles Garrett. Falk, who had been elevated from the practice squad before that game, went 20-for-25 passing for 198 yards in relief and will start against the Patriots.
Siemian was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, which opened the spot on the active roster for Fales.
Fales, as well as Falk, played for Jets coach Adam Gase in Miami and are familiar with his offense. Fales last played in a regular-season game in 2017 with the Dolphins; he is 31-for-48 passing for 287 yards with one touchdown and one interception in three games in his career.
So, along with QB GARDNER MINSHEW of Washington State, the last two Mike Leach-Washington State quarterbacks are starting this week.
Jayson Jenks of The Athletic talked to some of Leach’s QBs for this story from back in August:
First disclaimer: This is a story about Washington State coach Mike Leach.
Second disclaimer: While some of the details and anecdotes in this story might sound too strange to believe, the 10 former Washington State quarterbacks who spoke to The Athletic about Leach and his QB meetings insist that they are all true.
Austin Apodaca, 2012-13: It’s something you can’t really fabricate. All this stuff is true. You can ask any of us who have been in the room with him.
Connor Halliday, 2012-14: His first meeting, he had just gotten there and I was expecting him to install the offense. Everybody had their notebooks out ready to go. I think we got there at like 6 o’clock at night and were there until 9:30. He didn’t speak one word about football.
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Apodaca: Every single day there was some shit that popped off that you were like, “What in the world?”
Brink: Did you see our Christmas card photos we took as a quarterback group this year when we were holding Leach up? Other programs don’t have stuff like that. Nobody is having that much fun.
Brink: Everything with Leach at first glance is crazy, right? But then you’ve got to unpack it and be like, “OK, but is it that crazy?”
Brink: Our No. 1 rule was: Never say or ask or do anything that would get him talking about anything besides the film.
Apodaca: We would get pissed at people in the meeting room if they asked a question toward the end of the meeting. We would have these fall camp meetings that went until 9:30 at night and if there was a young freshman in there asking questions, we were all looking at him like, “Oh my God, dude, shut up because we will be in here for an hour and a half more on this subject alone. Stop asking questions, damn it.”
Brink: We’d have people sit in our meetings all the time, and it got to the point that our quarterbacks would say to the guys coming to the meeting, “Look, we’re glad to have you here. But don’t. Say. Anything. Because the second you do, that’s going to be the focus of this meeting, and then we’ll all be here all night.”
Tyler Bruggman, 2013: There was one time Connor, a veteran, made a rookie mistake. Sundays are typically long days, and we had finished the film from the game before. We were ready to head off to dinner. And then Connor made a rookie mistake and asked about the economy crash. I just remember Coach Leach putting the film clicker down and saying, “You know, it’s kind of a long answer, but it’s worth talking about.” So at that point, I knew we were going to be stuck in there for a while.
Jorgensen: There were definitely games going on within the quarterbacks. Leach would cycle through stories and then you’d get guys trying to trigger certain stories. They knew what to say in order to get him to go off on a tangent.
Brink: One of the great stories on that was early on my first year. Luke (Falk) was getting so perfect at his craft, and Luke loved making sure he got out to the practice field early enough to get his full warm-up in. So we would be in there waiting for Leach, and Luke would put on this serious face and be like, “I don’t care what you guys do, no matter what, nobody say shit, nobody ask anything, just let him come in and do his thing because I need to get on the practice field.” Classic Tyler Hilinski, he would wait until there would be maybe five or 10 minutes left in film and he would just be like, “So, Coach, what do you think about …”
Connor Neville, 2017-18: You could see Luke losing his shit in the corner. Just like, “Come on, I just want to get the fuck out of here.”
Brink: Luke would be staring daggers across the table, and Tyler would be covering his mouth because he would be cracking up.
Brink: Sometimes they’re literally out of nowhere. We’ll be watching film and he’ll be like, “Throw it to this guy here. On this play, we could have checked to this play. And you know what? That reminds me …” And now we’re on some story that happened in Key West and some guy with one eye and a peg leg that he met at whatever bar.
Apodaca: I remember one story in particular. I can’t remember where he was at, but a neighborhood dog kept going up to him and barking at him or something when he was a small kid. To get this dog to stop barking, he apparently went up to it and peed around it or something so the dog wouldn’t bother him. Since that story, I was like, “This dude is another level of different.” He was just so happy to tell that story.
Bruggman: One of the quarterbacks at Texas Tech took notes on Leach’s stories, and he would quote Leach but he wouldn’t say the F word and he wouldn’t write the F word. He left his notebook behind one day and somehow Leach got a hold of it and was looking at it, so the next day in the meeting he said, “I want you to get up on the board and write the word ‘fuck.’”
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Jorgensen: We didn’t really have playbooks.
Brink: Any high school, any junior college, no matter where you were, your playbook gets simpler when you get to Washington State.
Tuel: Literally as simple as humanly possible.
Apodaca: I remember I threw a pick or something, and I remember asking him what coverage that play is good against. And he goes, “Well, you should have just thrown it to this fucking guy because he’s standing there wide-ass open.”
Halliday: I said to Leach, “What do I need to do to get the ball there on time?” He was like, “Well, just throw it to the guy who’s fucking open.” I was like, “Yeah, no, I get that dude, but what do you want me to do to get there quicker?” And he was like, “I don’t give a shit what you do. Just throw it to the guy who’s fucking open.”
Tuel: You expect someone with that reputation, with that many successful quarterbacks under his umbrella, to have some secret sauce or special way of calling plays or reading defenses or just some scheme that’s better than everyone’s…He just found a way to make it as simple as he can.
Brink: Every week we’d look at what the defense was going to do inside the red zone. So every week Coach Leach would lean back and be like, “All right, guys. When we’re down in the red zone, they’re going to do one of two things. They’ll be in man or they’ll be in zone.” Early on, you look around at the other quarterbacks like, “Are you serious? That’s what I came to play college football to learn?”
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Tuel: This guy’s the guru. He is the Air Raid. I remember at BYU our first game, we’re watching the film the next day and he says, “How many plays did you change?” I said, “Probably two or three.” He’s like, “What do you mean two or three?” I said, “I called the play, and I ran the play. That’s kind of how it’s worked for me here.” He’s like, “Well, when Graham (Harrell) was playing, those guys were checking seven out of 10 plays. I was like, “Well, you never fucking told me that!” He’s like, “Well, you’re the one who sees it. I’m just giving you a suggestion.” I’m like, “Fucking A, good to know.” There are some things you just have to figure out going through it with him.
Halliday: By the end of my junior year and all through my senior year, I was probably calling 70 percent of the plays. He would give me a formation and then I would call the play. His coaching philosophy is, you’re out there on the field, you can see the way the defense is lined up better than I can. So it’s my job to get you to the best point of believing in yourself and believing in your ability to call the plays. That’s the way he coaches. He does it in a roundabout way sometimes, but it’s his philosophy to get the quarterback to run the entire show.
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Halliday: Our film sessions kind of became more of a hang-out situation. He had this Cuban coffee maker that he called Bucci. It’s really, really, really strong Cuban espresso. I don’t know why, but he called it Bucci.
Apodaca: Dude, I was like the Bucci slave my redshirt year. The Bucci was huge.
Tuel: He had a Bucci guy when I was there. Certainly.
Apodaca: I had to learn how to make the Bucci. I didn’t know how to do it, so I’m up there asking questions, nervous and shit, like, “What the hell? I don’t know how to make this shit.” I finally learned how to do it. Once I learned how to do it, Leach was like, “Oh, man, Apodaca, you make a real mean Bucci.” From then on, I had to go up and make the Bucci for him every single day before meetings. I was like, “Dude, if it gets me out of some crazy ass story, I’m going to go make this shit.”
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Brink: We had our position meeting at 2 o’clock, so we had to all be in there by 2 o’clock. The thing is, during my three seasons, I think he was on time maybe once or twice.
Anderson: He was usually fashionably late for whatever reason.
Brink: And then 15 or 20 minutes in, Coach Leach would walk in, but he would have his ear buds in and he’d be talking on the phone to someone. That’s another thing about him: He’ll pick up the phone for anyone, and no matter who you are, he’ll talk with you.
Jorgensen: He’d stop the meeting and take a half-hour phone call to talk to some ESPN Radio show. I know he talked to Donald Trump on the phone one time. He wouldn’t say anything. He’d just grab his phone and just take it for half an hour.
Brink: So he’d be on the phone for another five or 10 minutes and then he’d say, “Hey, I’ve gotta go. I’ve got a meeting to run here.” Now it’s 2:25 and we’ve started. If he was talking about something especially interesting on that phone call, then we’d start the meeting with a story. At that point, all bets were off. You didn’t know when you were going to get to film. You might not.
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Apodaca: Leach doesn’t change, and he’s not going to change for people.
Brink: Leach will be Leach daily. That’s another thing I love and respect about him. He’s the same guy every day. There’s something to be said for that.
Anderson: I would go back and sit in a meeting again just to enjoy it.