It’s safe to say that, after an emphatic season-opening win, New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has crashed back to earth.
Darnold took full responsibility after the Jets lost 21-17 to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, admitting that his performance was not good enough.
“From my point of view, I just have to play better, simple as that,” Darnold said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN. “It’s not acceptable, the way I played. I know that, and I have to take it like a man. I feel like I’m responsible for some of the stagnant offense we had. I just have to play better, that’s it.”
Darnold went 15-of-31 for 169 yards, throwing two interceptions late in the fourth quarter. He was reined in by a very conservative gameplan and outplayed by fellow rookie Baker Mayfield in the defeat.
The Jets knew even after Darnold quarterbacked the team to an emphatic win over the Detroit Lions that the rookie was going to have ups and downs and warned everyone accordingly. He’s 0-2 since then and clearly has a way to go yet.
The Cleveland Browns didn’t tip their hand in the buildup to the NFL Draft as to who they’d take first overall, which certainly left some players under the impression that they’d be the pick.
Quarterback Sam Darnold was one of them, as the Browns vetted him heavily and even had owner Jimmy Haslam involved in the process. Ultimately, they picked Baker Mayfield, while Darnold landed with the New York Jets at No. 3.
“Yeah, I thought I could’ve ended up there or several other teams,” Darnold said, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “I honestly haven’t even thought about it since I got drafted by the Jets.”
Darnold said the fact that the Browns passed on him didn’t give him any motivation for revenge ahead of their Thursday night meeting.
“No, I’m just going to go out there and play ball,” he said.
Things worked out for Darnold. He wouldn’t have been able to start right away in Cleveland as he has in New York, where he became a cult hero after his debut before leveling off a bit. It’s notable that he doesn’t seem bitter or out to prove that the Browns made a mistake. Maybe he is deep down, but he’s not showing it publicly.
The New York Daily News had a ridiculous cover ahead of Sam Darnold’s first career home start for the New York Jets.
The Daily News’ cover had Darnold cloaked in revolutionary clothing and was a play on the hit play “Hamilton,” only they called it “Samilton.”
This is really stupid. pic.twitter.com/mHgGNmnGeI
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) September 16, 2018
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) September 16, 2018
Darnold threw two touchdown passes during the Jets’ 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions on the road on Monday night. The first-round pick will get his first taste of MetLife Stadium in the team’s home game against the division rival Miami Dolphins.
Sam Darnold’s NFL career got off to the worst possible start on Monday night, but he quickly righted the ship to lead the New York Jets to a convincing 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions. Does that mean the former USC star is destined to turn into a franchise quarterback?
Todd Bowles isn’t ready to crown Darnold just yet.
On Thursday, Bowles praised Darnold for having “rare” poise and not seeming like the youngest QB to ever start a Week 1 NFL game, but he also said people who are saying the Jets have found their franchise leader for the next 10-15 years are jumping the gun a bit.
“We won one game,” Bowles said, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “I can tell you after about 100 more of them whether we have one or not, right now it’s a little early.”
Bowles added that he trusts Darnold to make the right adjustments going forward when things don’t go his way, and we saw a great example of that when he refused to let a pick-six define his NFL debut. Still, Bowles reminded fans that one game means very little in the overall picture.
“It’s going to take more than a game to say that he’s really good. It’s going to take more than a game,” Bowles insisted. “… It’s one been one game to sit here and say whether he’s great, whether he’s trash or whether anything else is kind of way too early for that. He’s played one game, he’s got a lot of years to go and he’ll build it as he goes.”
In case you couldn’t tell by the reactions on social media, people were waiting to jump all over Darnold if he continued the trend of Jets rookie quarterbacks struggling mightily. While Week 1 was a great start, there are going to be plenty more bumps in the road. How Darnold responds to those will define his career.
Sam Darnold became the youngest quarterback to ever start a Week 1 game when he made his NFL debut on Monday, and let’s just say he did not exactly get off to a roaring start.
On the very first play of the game and the very first pass of his career, Darnold threw a pick-six to Detroit Lions linebacker Quandre Diggs.
— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) September 10, 2018
Darnold couldn’t possibly have scripted a worse start to his NFL career, and you won’t be surprised to see that Twitter showed him no sympathy.
Good Lord! The very first play of Sam Darnold’s career, he throws a puck-6 to Diggs. Why the hell are you throwing an ACROSS-THE-FIELD PASS? Jesus! This ain’t USC! Actually, maybe he still thinks it is. Lions 7, Jets 0. #MyGoodness
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) September 10, 2018
Sam Darnold’s first play: pick six.
Not ideal. pic.twitter.com/DaSF0t85PX
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) September 10, 2018
Baker Mayfield > Sam Darnold
— Barstool Sooners (@OUBarstool) September 10, 2018
Sam Darnold needs this… pic.twitter.com/00DBzf2cfd
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 10, 2018
Sam Darnold's first snap of his career is a pick-6 pic.twitter.com/ddHkIh6kjw
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 10, 2018
Sam Darnold is the youngest QB in NFL history to throw a pick six.
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) September 10, 2018
— Cody Ulm (@CodyUlm) September 10, 2018
There have been some questions about the Jets potentially risking shattering Darnold’s confidence, so it will be interesting to see how the former USC star bounces back. On the bright side, he got his first career pick-six out of the way in a hurry.
The New York Jets invested the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Sam Darnold, and the rookie quarterback will have a chance to immediately reward the team for having faith in him.
On Monday, Jets head coach Todd Bowles confirmed that Darnold will start when the Giants take on the Detroit Lions on “Monday Night Football” next week.
— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) September 3, 2018
Darnold beat out veteran Josh McCown for the starting job, and Bowles said he won the competition fair and square.
Todd Bowles on Darnold: “He loves to compete. We didn’t hold him back. …He (has) a work-hard mentality & he earned it. That says a lot about him.” #NYJets
— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) September 3, 2018
The Jets have gone with rookie quarterbacks in the past and had it not work out, so they must be confident they are not going to stunt Darnold’s growth by handing him the keys to the offense right away. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted, the 21-year-old Darnold will be the youngest NFL quarterback to ever start a game on opening weekend.
Sam Darnold had a funny response to his viral hair video from Friday night.
During the New York Jets’ preseason game against the New York Giants, Darnold and fellow quarterback Josh McCown were seen running their hands through their hair at the same time:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 25, 2018
The rookie was asked about the clip on Sunday and joked about it, saying he was the trendsetter.
Sam Darnold today: “Everyone has been talking about it, but a total coincidence. But I would say that I've taught Josh a couple of things. Everyone has been like, ‘Oh yeah, Josh is teaching Sam a bunch.’ But I think I taught him a couple of things about the hair.” #Jets https://t.co/jEnZ0ohoaU
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 27, 2018
Darnold may be learning a lot from the veteran McCown, but apparently how to treat his hair during games is not one of them. The expectation is that Darnold will end up as the team’s starter.