The start to Sam Darnold’s career has been a roller-coaster of sorts three weeks into his career. His first career pass attempt was an interception that was returned for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions. That game eventually turned right around for the Jets as they put down 31 points in the third quarter in a 48-17 victory. They followed up the impressive week one with back-to-back losses to the division rival Miami Dolphins, and then giving the Cleveland Browns their first win in 15 months last Thursday night in a game where #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield made his debut after a Tyrod Taylor concussion.
Through the first three weeks, here is how Darnold’s statistics look: 56-93, 701 yards, 3 TDs, and 5 INTs. He was pushed into the starting role after Teddy Bridgewater was traded to the New Orleans Saints just before the preseason concluded. Jets fans are starting to become concerned with the rookie QB’s play, and wonder if he was pushed into this role too soon.
To be brutally honest, the Jets weren’t exactly a favorite playoff consideration. They are a dark horse team at best, currently sitting at a 1-2 record. After a week three loss in Cleveland, all options are being looked at by Todd Bowles and he will be investigating the best way to move forward. Should benching Sam Darnold for Josh McCown be a viable option for this team?
If Bowles is to bench Darnold, it’ll be in hopes of letting him observe the veteran McCown and maybe learn a few more tricks before being thrown out there again. At the same time, if he is benched, he won’t be able to play through his growing pains that are often beneficial to young quarterbacks. It’s a peculiar situation that the Jets have on their hands with no real idea on how to go about it.
The Jets should remain calm with the 21-year-old. It is still early in the season, and Darnold is still learning everything necessary to be a top-end NFL quarterback. As the famous saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and the same goes for franchise quarterbacks. There will be struggles and growing pains in every young player’s career, and it would be unfair to pull him out instead of letting him develop.
I have faith in Darnold to rebound from his early struggles, but it’s difficult to say that he could lead this team to the playoffs this season. The Jets have plenty of work to do and will hopefully look to build around him in the coming future, but I don’t think it’s wrong to say he will improve as time goes on.
The Jets will aim to regain some momentum next week as they get a week and a half of rest before taking on the elite Jacksonville Jaguars defense on the road. This will prove to be Darnold’s greatest test yet, as this roster has slowed down the likes of the New York Giants and New England Patriots to a degree.
If Darnold is allowed to play through his struggles and figure out for himself what works and what doesn’t, it’s fair to say that he will be a serviceable starting quarterback in the future. For now, we will just have to wait and see what Darnold makes of his rookie season with the competition he will be pinned up against, playing the likes of the Patriots and Minnesota Vikings later on in the season.
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