The third overall pick in April’s NFL Draft made his debut for the New York Jets on Friday night. And quarterback Sam Darnold did not disappoint.
Fabled bandleader Lawrence Welk (and a 1 and a 2 and a 3) would have appreciated the way head coach Todd Bowles handled the New York Jets’ preseason opener in terms of the club’s quarterbacks.
In what proved to be a 17-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, ageless Josh McCown started the game and played one series — a three and out. One-time Minnesota Vikings’ first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater would enter the game and play the team’s next two series stretching into the second quarter. He connected on all but one of his eight pass attempts, good for 85 yards, including a 16-yard scoring toss to running back Isaiah Crowell.
Perhaps it was only fitting that the third overall pick in April’s draft be the Jets’ third quarterback of the evening. But Sam Darnold indeed proved to be worth the wait. It’s never wise to read too much into any preseason performance in terms of the numbers. But what was very evident was how the former USC standout hung in the pocket when pressured. He also showed an ability to get rid of the football quickly and accurately.
Darnold finished the night completing 13 of his 18 throws (96 yards), one of those a 14-yard touchdown strike to veteran wide receiver Charles Johnson. He was sacked once but there were zero turnovers by the young signal-caller.
“I felt pretty good,” said Darnold after the game to Rich Cimini of ESPN. “I put the ball where it needed to be and tried to get it in the hands of our playmakers. There were a couple of plays, especially on the sack, I felt like I could’ve gotten the ball out there. But, you know, live and learn, I guess.”
The Jets will next take the field on Aug. 16, when they take on the Washington Redskins in Landover. It would not be a shock to see Bowles give either Bridgewater or Darnold the start, with both in need of playing time. Of course, two and a half quarters of preseason action isn’t much to go on so the evaluation process. But it was a pretty encouraging debut by a player this franchise could use in a big way.