NY Jets: Bleacher Report predicts ‘slight uptick’ for Sam Darnold in 2020

NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will enter his third NFL season in 2020 and Bleacher Report predicts a slight improvement from his first two campaigns.

NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has had quite the eventful first two seasons in the NFL. From having to deal with ill-timed injuries to coaching and roster turnover, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the former USC star.

But now entering his third NFL campaign, all eyes are on him to take the next step towards being a viable, long-term starter in this league.

After an encouraging, but mistake-riddled rookie season, Darnold showed improvements across the board in 2019 putting up career-highs in touchdowns, passing yards, completion percentage, QB rating, and yards per attempt.

Pretty much every relevant statistic was improved.

Many Jets fans are hopeful that Darnold will take an even bigger step in 2020 with a seemingly improved offensive line and a hopefully capable collection of skill position players. However, both of those position groups are far from solidified.

Bleacher Report recently released a list of projections for every starting quarterback in the NFL. And while Darnold was once again projected to show improvement, it wasn’t the “big leap” that many fans are likely hoping for.

Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report projected Darnold to finish 2020 completing 317 of 494 passes (64 percent completion percentage) while throwing for 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The 23-year-old would also tack on 36 rushes for 101 yards and three touchdowns.

All of those figures would be career-highs including his interception total which would be the lowest number of his professional career thus far. But none of those numbers are particularly exciting.

Moton referenced Darnold’s still-questionable supporting cast as a possible cause of this but did indicate that the former No. 3 overall pick would show a “slight uptick” when it came to his production.

Darnold has yet to play a full NFL season missing three games in each of his first two campaigns. And it is worth noting that these projections are based on a 16-game season meaning that his actual touchdown and yards-per-game rates wouldn’t increase after all.

In fact, Darnold averaged 1.46 passing touchdowns per game in 2019 and these projections would actually indicate a step back to just 1.38 passing touchdowns per game.

The same is true if you average out his yards-per-game totals where he averaged 232.6 passing yards per game last season as compared to just 225.8 in Moton’s projections.

By that measure, the only improvements that would be made would be his interception rate which would see a steep decrease and his completion percentage which would climb from 62 percent in 2019 to 64 percent in 2020.

Those are both notable improvements, but they’re modest at best.

22 touchdowns over a 16-game season is a very low total, but perhaps that’s a product of Darnold’s lackluster supporting cast and poor coaching staff.

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Nonetheless, Jets fans will be hoping for a bigger improvement from Darnold in 2020 than the “slight uptick” that has been projected.

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