Many outside the New York Jets facility viewed Sam Darnold's struggles the past two seasons as a byproduct of poor coaching from Adam Gase and his staff. The theory posits that Darnold is a talented player whose coaching staff never put him in a position to succeed.
Apparently, that isn't just a notion fed by media. It's a tale some who sat in the Jets' locker room believe.
Retired center Ryan Kalil spent 2019 with the Jets after 12 years in Carolina. He told Joe Person of The Athletic recently that the Jets' system held Darnold back from developing into a stable signal-caller.
"It was a system that didn't allow a lot of individual freedom. It was very, 'You do it this way and that's it,'" Kalil said. "A lot of the scheme was pre-determined (plays) based on what they thought they were seeing from the sideline. It didn't give Sam a lot of room to grow, in my opinion, to make decisions on the fly. It worked in some instances, but it handicapped him in the long run.
"It wasn't a system that allowed him to evolve and make decisions on his own. I think that was the hardest thing. And I think that's why ultimately the Jets made some (coaching) changes, too."
Gase's failures have become a running joke in many circles. The success players like Ryan Tannehill have found after they escaped Gase have caused most to view the former Jets and Dolphins coach as a ridged fissure through which talent depreciates into a ditch.
Not only was the coaching shoddy, but the Jets also didn't surround Darnold with the weapons or protection needed to nurture a young player.
Kalil believes Darnold has the talent and work ethic to thrive under head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady in Carolina.
"I had nothing but a positive experience with him," Kalil told Person. "I saw a guy who was an incredible worker. I saw a guy who cared a lot about his teammates, about his craft and his community. I saw a guy who wanted to be good and didn't take anything for granted. But I just think he was in a system that wasn't beneficial for him -- (and) for a lot of players that were there during that time."
It's easy to blast Gase and the Jets for Darnold's failures. The QB also shares part of the blame, however. Moving to Carolina, Darnold has the chance to prove his struggles were mostly circumstance. If he crumbles under the pressure again, the 23-year-old likely won't be granted a third chance any time soon.