NY Jets: Sam Darnold ‘can be one of the top 3 quarterbacks’ in the NFL

NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold can be ‘one of the top 3 quarterbacks’ in the NFL. Here’s who said that and what Sam has to do to get there.

Sam Darnold just completed his second season with the NY Jets in 2019.

So far he’s played in 26 out of 32 possible games due to a myriad of injuries and a bout with mononucleosis.

Sam has thrown 36 touchdown passes to 28 interceptions with 5,889 yards through the air with a 60% completion percentage.

On the First Draft podcast Todd McShay gave his take on what Darnold has done and why he feels confident in him as a player moving forward:

“In my opinion, Sam Darnold can be one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL if he can get some protection. Darnold has done the most with the least out of all of the quarterbacks outside of Lamar Jackson in the last couple of years.

I just think he’s special. Darnold has magician like tools inside the pocket and if you just give him something. A little bit more in the run game, something in protection, then the NY Jets can quickly turn this thing around. Sam Darnold has a chance to be one of the three or four best quarterbacks in the NFL.”

Sam Darnold has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career, but he’s also shown a propensity to make some boneheaded mistakes. Some are on Sam, but some are because of his crappy environment: terrible offensive line, subpar weapons, and horrible play calling.

General manager Joe Douglas is going to get his first whack at fixing this thing in 2020, so let’s see what he does with money in free agency and during the 2020 NFL Draft.

But what can Sam Darnold specifically improve on his own to put himself into that lofty elite quarterback conversation? Our Boy Green spoke with Connor Rogers of the Stick to Football podcast on The Jets Zone this week to find out:

“There are two things that immediately come to mind. No. 1 his decision making is still a bit too risky at times. Again this is partly to blame because of the situation he’s been placed in (bad OL play, didn’t have a good play caller).

In the New England game, he got frantic in the pocket and panicked. That carried over to the Jacksonville game and finally, he was able to calm down to have some good games down the stretch.

No. 2 and some people may be surprised by this but I would like to see Sam run a little bit more. There were times last year where he had a lot of daylight in front of him and he didn’t want to move.

I don’t know if he’s being coached to not get out of the pocket but when he was coached by Jeremy Bates in his rookie year he wasn’t afraid to escape the pocket and make plays. That’s what makes Darnold so electric.

What he’s able to do outside the pocket and his ability to improvise is why so many people loved him coming out of USC. It’s the reason why people are excited about Joe Burrow out of LSU and why people were excited about Carson Wentz coming out a bunch of years ago.

Sam needs to take what the defense gives him and threaten them with the run when it’s available. Once he starts burning a few defenses with that they’ll have to respect it and change the way they try to defend Darnold.

Sam has shown enough flashes as a 22-year old that people should think that he’s going to be a top-flight quarterback. Now it’s also up to the Jets to do their part this offseason.”

The #Jets Zone w/ @BoyGreen25 feat. @ConnorJRogers, @sticktofootball:– Who should #NYJ chase in free agency?– What Sam Darnold has to do to become an elite quarterback.– Connor explains huge gap between Jerry Jeudy & "Day 2" wide receivers.#TakeFlighthttps://t.co/yGYPLotME2

— The Jets Zone (@TheJets_Zone) February 12, 2020

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This is a pivotal year for Sam Darnold who will be entering his third season as a starter. The time for excuses is over, it’s time for Darnold to take the next step in his development and it’s also time for the NY Jets to protect and support their franchise investment.