At this point it would be a major upset if rookie Sam Darnold was not the New York Jets’ starting quarterback when Week 1 comes calling.
Even prior to his first NFL start this past week, it seemed that Darnold had already beaten out veterans Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown for the starting job. Following yet another strong performance, it became clear that Darnold is the odds-on favorite to be the team’s starting quarterback.
The Jets’ brass is blitzing the media with a ton of praise in Darnold’s direction as the team prepares for its third preseason ame.
Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates noted on Monday that Darnold has “owned the playbook.”
Bates also expanded some on his thoughts.
OC Jeremy Bates on Sam Darnold: "He's everything you're looking for in a young QB as far as the ability to go out there and the game isn't too big for him. The stage isn't too big for him. Really, when the lights come on, he gets better." #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) August 20, 2018
Given the complexities of Bates’ offense, those are some strong words. It’s one of the major issues facing rookie quarterbacks. How long will it take for them to acquire an expert understanding of the playbook? For Darnold, it appears that the answer to this question is multiple offseason programs, training camp and just two preseason games.
The tape backs up Bates’ claims in a big way. Taking what the defense gives him, Darnold has looked in command of the Jets’ offense. He’s hitting his check downs, doing audibles at the line and is simply looking really comfortable out there.
Through two preseason games, the former USC standout has completed 21-of-29 passes with a touchdown and one interception.
Not to be outdone, general manager Mike Maccagnan took to the Boomer Esiason and Gregg Gianotti show on WFAN Monday morning to lob even more praise in Darnold’s direction, indicating that he’s “exceptionally impressed” with the rookie while describing Darnold as “unflappable.”
This has to be music to the ears of Jets fans the world over. And while we’ll reserve judgment until the regular season, all signs are pointing in the direction of Darnold having a great rookie campaign.