Jets fans are ready to anoint Sam Darnold as the second coming of Joe Namath. Todd Bowles wants to tap the breaks on the hype surrounding his rookie.
Todd Bowles might be the kind of guy who tries to put toothpaste back into the tube. That’s exactly what he’s doing with Sam Darnold. While the New York media is ready to call him the Jets’ quarterback of the future, Bowles wants to wait quite some time before making a firm decision about his rookie’s future.
The Jets head coach claims it might take him “100 games” to decide whether or not Darnold is really a franchise quarterback. It’s safe to say no one in the New York media is going to wait nearly that long. Darnold’s solid play in the team’s 48-17 win over the Lions in Week 1 has everyone associated with the Jets dreaming of a playoff run in 2018.
In fairness, Darnold’s play at Detroit exceeded most rational expectations. He carved up the Lions defense for 198 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 passing attempts. Darnold wasn’t Joe Montana on Monday night, but he wasn’t Mark Sanchez either. His command of the offense and ability to push the ball down field on time were really positive signs for his ability to be effective this season.
He wasn’t perfect, though. He threw one interception and he held the ball too long in the pocket on several occasions. The Lions only sacked him twice, but he needs to do a better job of getting rid of the football when the play isn’t there. That’s certainly a skill that will improve with experience, but it’s something that could cost the Jets an important game or two this season.
Despite those imperfections, it’s obvious Darnold is the real deal. He gives the Jets offense a legitimate player to build around. He may never become an All-Pro at the game’s most important position, but it’s easy to envision a path towards him becoming a regular Pro Bowler. That’s enough to justify a lot of excitement from Jets fans.
That doesn’t mean their favorite team is headed to the playoffs this season. As a rookie, Darnold is going to inevitably experience his share of ups and downs. Bowles will do his best to keep him on an even keel, but that’s going to be a real challenge. It may be 2019 before we really see Darnold step up and lead this team into the postseason. Patience isn’t a virtue of Jets fans, but it’s something they need to exercise here. It’s time to enjoy the ride with Darnold.