The New York Jets finally have their franchise quarterback, and Sam Darnold is taking full control as he prepares for his second NFL season.
When the Jets traded up to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, they were hoping to finally land that elusive franchise quarterback.
If the early returns are any indication, they’ve done just that with former USC star Sam Darnold.
Darnold showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, and just one week into his 2019 training camp, he’s already feeling confident and in control, despite having to learn yet another new offense under head coach Adam Gase.
As the team prepares for their first preseason action of the year, Darnold has been pleased with the way his unit is executing in practice (per team senior reporter Eric Allen):
We’re getting the offense and we’re moving at a really good pace right now. We’re moving through the installs and guys are absorbing it and performing it out on the field. I feel the guys aren’t thinking that much. They’re just hearing the calls and they’re going.
An important task for any young quarterback is earning the respect of his veteran teammates. According to veteran guard Brian Winters, Darnold is passing that test with flying colors, both on the field and in terms of leadership:
He’s taken full control of the huddle and his confidence is real high as it should be. He’s a great player. Every day, he’s just stacking it and he’s building on his potential. I think he can be amazing.
The Jets made some huge improvements to the offense this offseason, from adding star running back Le’Veon Bell and an explosive slot target in Jamison Crowder in free agency to upgrading their offensive line by trading for guard Kelechi Osemele. Adding that to an already promising offense has Jets fans entering the year with high expectations.
But as with any team, the Jets offense will likely go only as far as their quarterback will take them, and that’s a huge responsibility for a quarterback who only started one season in college before making the jump to the NFL.
That said, all signs are pointing toward Darnold being able to shoulder that burden with ease, taking the Jets offense to new heights in 2019 and beyond.