Ahead of Sunday's 1 p.m. matchup with Miami, though, head coach Adam Gase revealed a positive step in the right direction as Darnold returned to practice Wednesday.
"With Sam, we're taking this day by day," Gase said. "We'll see how today goes. Hoping for things to go smooth and he feels good. Things have been trending in the right direction, but we're going to take this one day at a time and see how this week goes."
As a six-game starter in the 2020 season, Darnold has completed 112 of 191 passes (58.6 percent) for 1,045 yards and three touchdowns to six interceptions while adding one rushing score on 138 yards (7.7 average) and 18 carries.
"We're going in there thinking he's going to be able to do quite a bit," Gase said. "We'll limit kind of any unnecessary throwing. Sometimes in these special teams periods and things like that, a lot of throws are made in those periods. We'll really limit those. Most of his throws will come in either individual or team periods."
Preparing Darnold for a potential start against the Dolphins (6-4) is a task that Gase admitted would be tough to gauge throughout the week of practice.
"I'm asking the same question you're asking -- I've been asking those same questions, I'm talking to him about it, I'm talking to the trainers about it, I'm talking to (general manager) Joe (Douglas) about it, the rest of the coaching staff about it and be like, 'How do we really know?'" Gase said.
"And sometimes in this league, it's more about -- I'm not worried about structural damage and something like that. I'm just wondering how bad is it. Is he going to be able to recover if he gets hit, if he gets driven to the ground? Is that pain going to be so much where he can't go anymore? Because that's the last thing we want to happen, first series of the game that happens and, all of a sudden, no we've got an issue.
"So we've just got to keep talking through it. We've got to see how he feels. Hopefully, when we go out today, he feels really good throwing it around and we'll keep talking through this."
If Darnold is unable to go, the Jets (0-10) would stick with Joe Flacco, who has completed 74 of 134 passes (55.2 percent) for 864 yards and six touchdowns to three interceptions in five games (four starts).
"I think we can help with some of the things that we do as a coaching staff," Gase said of Darnold. "It's just making sure -- let's not run, like, lead (quarterback) draw with him. Maybe we can avoid some of those types of things. But I think, at the same time, we've got to let him play the way that he's accustomed to playing.
"His biggest thing to protect himself is when he gets in those positions outside the pocket. Might be a throwaway instead of trying to do something crazy and extend a play to the point of he's putting himself in harm's way. I think there are some things that he can do to protect himself, but at the same time, it doesn't completely take away from the way that he plays."