New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold took his lumps as a rookie, but that valuable experience has him ready to make a huge jump in 2019.
When the Jets spent the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft on Sam Darnold, they hoped they were getting the franchise quarterback the team so desperately needed, and had eluded them for years. Though his rookie season had some expected growing pains, Darnold showed flashes that he could absolutely be that player.
Despite having to learn a new playbook under new head coach Adam Gase, Darnold is heading into his sophomore campaign with plenty of confidence (via team reporter Ethan Greenberg):
I’ve been confident throughout OTAs, especially this year just knowing the guys. Obviously, it’s a little bit of a different offense than we had last year, so there’s a process in getting to know that. But I’m definitely a lot more comfortable just with the guys and being in the huddle and in terms of communicating and all that kind of stuff.
Darnold is no stranger to rolling with the punches when it comes to switching coordinators and schemes, dating back to his time at USC. He believes his experience dealing with those kinds of changes will make this transition easier for him heading into the 2019 season, and it’s a mentality he also uses to approach the game on a play-by-play basis:
I think I’m all right at kind of being able to separate things. So, whether it was at USC or last year, I’m very good at just kind of putting stuff behind me and just moving on to the next offense. I feel like I’m the same way on the field — if a bad play happens, I’m able to move on to the next play. I think there’s definitely a process there, though, where you’ve got to erase some stuff out of your memory bank.
Gase’s offense is a versatile attack that loves to take full advantage of dynamic playmakers, and Darnold has all the physical and mental tools to maximize the system’s potential.
Throw in offseason additions like Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and Ty Montgomery, as well as returning talents like Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Chris Herndon, and the Jets have the makings of a young, promising offense for 2019 and beyond.
Darnold started 13 games for the Jets as a rookie, completing 57.7 percent of his passes for 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
While Darnold’s youth and lack of starting experience may have been a concern to some teams heading into the 2018 draft, those same traits are why his ceiling remains so high heading into his second NFL season.