When the New York Jets selected USC quarterback Sam Darnold in the 2018 NFL Draft, emotions were high among fans, as many believed the team had finally found its franchise signal-caller. Let’s take a look at some early expectations for Darnold.
When taking a look at what will be expected from newly drafted New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, there are a few different viewpoints to analyze. The first is the viewpoint of fans, who will likely have lofty expectations for their new quarterback.
Since the days of the legendary Joe Namath, the Jets have been in search of a permanent quarterback: a player who can not only lead the team to great heights but a player who can do it year after year. That hasn’t happened and Jets fans have been let down more often than not.
The Jets have had losing seasons four of the last seven years. The team hasn’t made the NFL Playoffs since 2011 and fans haven’t had too much to root for in recent memory. Because of this, the fanbase will expect Darnold to change the culture and to do it fast.
They’ll expect the California native to fix his turnover issues, perform at a high level and quite possibly start right away. And that’s certainly a possibility, as Darnold saw quite a bit of success at USC. In 2016, he threw for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions and in 2017, he threw for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
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There’s no question that Darnold is a tremendous football player, but will he see that same success right away? That’s a tough thing to ask of a young kid entering the NFL regardless of his past and his status as a top draft pick and that’s where the expectations of the Jets’ front office and coaching staff differ from those of fans.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Jets will expect Darnold to perform. They didn’t use a top pick on him for any other reason, but the team is also aware that production will come in due time.
“Once we get him in and he starts the playbook, there is no timetable. We have to see how fast he learns, and then get some experience. We’re not going to throw him in there, but at the same time, we’re not going to hold him back either.”
That’s likely the best choice Jets executives can make. There’s no reason to rush Darnold. The better choice would likely be to let him learn, groom him and give veteran Josh McCown and new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates time to polish him. When he’s ready, the team will reap the rewards.
Opinions may differ on when Darnold should get his chance, when he should start, and what should be hoped for out of him. One thing that everyone with ties to the Jets can agree on, however, is that sooner rather than later, he will be expected to perform. And if does, the culture of the Jets can and likely will be changed.