The game did not look too fast for Sam Darnold in the New York Jets’ preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday. The rookie, who entered the game midway through the second quarter, looked poised and decisive. He led the Jets offense on a 10 play, 64 yard touchdown drive in his second possession, effectively throwing for three TDs, as one pass was dropped and another called back due to offensive pass interference.
The Jets would finish the game 17-0, shutting out the Falcons.
When asked about his performance, Darnold said, “I thought I played pretty good. I think I just put the ball where it needed to be, tried to get it in the hands of our playmakers.”
“I feel like the game as a quarterback for me, the hashes are so much
closer than college, so I feel like I can see the field a little bit clearer in a weird way. It’s really nice to be able to get that width and be able to see exactly what the coverage is.
That’s an impressive and confident statement to make.
Much will be made about how Darnold played against second and third-string defenders, however, it’s important to remember that backups still made it to the NFL. Anyone he plays against are going to be top-level football players, so making correct reads, throwing with timing and accuracy, and extending plays, are still good signs for the 3rd overall draftee.
NFL analysts Brian Baldinger, Anthony Becht, and Charley Casserly took to Twitter to breakdown Sam Darnold’s first pro action.
Darnold’s performance also landed him on the Pro Football Focus “Team of the Week,” which includes both veterans (albeit most played in limited action) and rookies.
It must be noted that QB Teddy Bridgewater did not look like any slouch, either, in limited action. He passed for 7 of 8 for 85 yards and a touchdown (on a great effort play by RB Isaiah Crowell, who unfortunately suffered a head injury for his efforts.)
Should Darnold be handed the reigns of the franchise early, as is increasingly likely, Bridgewater is a luxury backup; a viable starter anywhere else in the league.
As it stands, potential trade partners appear few and far between. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have some interest, as starting QB Jameis Winston is suspended for the first three games of the season. Their current backup QB is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is going into his second season with the team and did play in a few games for Tampa in 2017.
Outside of Tampa Bay, it is difficult to see another team floating the idea, barring injury to their quarterback. Regardless of what does happen, Bridgewater’s return makes for a great story and a premium insurance plan for the Green and White.
Featured Image: New York Jets