The Jets aren’t doing a very good job of hiding their excitement about Sam Darnold. All signs continue to point to him getting the start on Week 1.
When the Jets moved up in the draft to select Sam Darnold it was clear the organization viewed him as their quarterback of the future. All he’s done since that day is continue to exceed expectations. Look for the rookie to be under center for his team when the regular season begins.
Some general managers work to dampen the hype surrounding their rookie quarterbacks, but that’s not a concern for Mike Maccagnan. He recently told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason that he is “exceptionally impressed” with how Darnold has handled himself on the field. Specifically, he’s excited about the former USC star’s ability to keep his poise in the pocket.
Such strong words should put Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater on notice. Entering the preseason both signal callers had a legitimate chance to open the season as the Jets’ starter. Neither was very likely to hold off Darnold for an extended period of time, but now the situation for both veterans is pretty grim. Bridgewater seems headed for a trade and McCown looks like he’ll settle into the backup role for 2018.
This all adds up to good news for Jets fans. They’ve been searching for a franchise quarterback for a long time. Darnold may struggle at times, but allowing him to take the offensive reins as a rookie will pay major dividends for the team in the future. By letting Darnold take his lumps now, the Jets should enter next season with an excellent idea of what they need to do strengthen the offense around him.
The only downside to starting Darnold this season is that the Jets offense isn’t blessed with great playmakers for him to utilize. Expect Todd Bowles to lean heavily on Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell to grind out yards on the ground. Darnold will get his chance to throw the ball a fair amount, but the coaching staff will try to minimize the need for him to make tough throws on obvious passing downs.
It might be a season or two early to call the Jets playoff contenders, but the selection of Darnold gives the franchise a lot to look forward to in the future. Expect him to be the cornerstone of the New York offense for years to come.