Rookie Sam Darnold is easily the best quarterback on the New York Jets roster as he will be the starter under center to start the regular season.
Drafting Sam Darnold this past April has given every New York Jets fan – including myself, a glimmer of hope we haven’t felt in quite some time. The days of forcing rookie quarterbacks to the bench in order to gain some experience from the sideline are long over.
These last several seasons we have seen the likes of Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz avoid the sideline – leading to rookie seasons that any franchise would love to have when building for the next year and ultimately the future. This upcoming season, Sam Darnold will be added to that short list above as a rookie quarterback who will flash his potential to the team that has invested so much in him and the rest of the NFL.
At 6’4 220 pounds, Darnold has your prototypical NFL quarterback size. Darnold was not only a quarterback in high school but also a linebacker while also excelling at basketball, winning the South Coast League MVP twice and making the all-CIF team. I personally love seeing quarterbacks have success in other sports besides football, whether its basketball or even baseball which seems to be the usual two sports a lot of NFL players play when growing up.
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Darnold comes from an athletic/sports involved family with his mother a gym teacher, his sister a college volleyball player at the University of Rhode Island, and finally, his grandfather Dick Hammer, who competed in the 1964 summer Olympics playing volleyball.
When you watched Darnold play at USC the way he created broken plays, turning something out of nothing, shows what he can do off the cuff with his athletic ability.
Being able to create plays like that will help Darnold also create success for himself in the NFL over the course of his career, especially his rookie year when things can get dicey at times. Imagine being a 19-year-old kid playing for the USC Trojans against Penn State in the Rose Bowl?
On top of that, it happened to be a nail-biting shootout ending on a game-winning field goal, thanks to a masterful drive down the field lead by Darnold. That game alone, he impressed me like crazy, with his maturity and poise during the many highs and lows throughout the night. Possessing those traits as a teenager while playing quarterback for a school like USC in the Los Angeles market, is exactly how you want your rookie to be when he sets out to become the face of your franchise.
Gaining that experience in a city like LA at such a young age will do nothing but prepare him for the media market in New York, which will either eat you alive or you’ll prosper in over the years. If you can handle this media with poise while also winning a bunch of big games for this city, that’s all you’ll need to do to have success when it comes to handling the New York market.
Just look at Eli Manning. Plenty of times we saw former Jets quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, flounder in front of the camera or microphone which lead to back page headlines and constant scrutiny from local writers from all different media outlets. From just the first few months Darnold has been involved with the organization, I have to applaud him for the way he’s carried himself during his media appearances.
While it’s anticipated that Darnold will have some rookie hiccups, there is optimism when it comes to his mental toughness – not letting the moment of playing a great like Tom Brady and the Patriots overwhelm him leading him to fold. There is a refreshing feeling when it comes to watching and listening to Darnold, he comes off to me as a kid who gets it – even at the young age of 21. He knows what it takes to be successful at this position, the amount of time and dedication he needs to commit towards this – if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have been the projected 1st overall pick for three months leading up to the draft.
Putting aside Darnold’s arm talent, phenomenal footwork and ability to create plays outside of the pocket, he has the makeup of a young quarterback primed to take over a franchise. General manager Mike Maccagnan has been enamored with the former Trojan ever since he noticed him while scouting another California native quarterback – Jared Goff. Which you can read more about thanks to Albert Breer’s insight in his article chronicling the Jets lead up to the 2018 NFL Draft. The Jets front office got their guy who they knew would be amazing for this organization but always thought he was out of their reach.
Now that he’s a huge part of the Jets future, it’s time to let the cool, calm and collective Cali boy do what he does best and lead this team to places they have not reached in many years. Make no mistake about it, Darnold is indeed better than Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. He has the skill-set to outperform them in training camp once he gets his contract situation sorted out. Besides that, it would be a refreshing and exciting change to finally have a young future franchise quarterback start the season instead of another veteran. It’s time the Jets followed suit to a lot of other teams and let the Darnold era begin sooner rather than later.