Sam Darnold
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Jets sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold is quietly demonstrating burgeoning leadership this offseason.

When Sam Darnold was drafted third overall by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft, he was hailed as the quarterback who would bring the Jets out of the dark age. The man who would put an end the third-longest NFL playoff drought. The one who would wrestle away the division title from the greatest of all time in Tom Brady.

While those sentiments might have been a little premature, they are not entirely unrealistic.

Now, he’s taken on an increased leadership role heading into his sophomore season.

Darnold’s rookie season started promising enough with a 3-3 record over the first six games, including impressive wins against the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. However, as things seem to always go for the Jets (in recent years), the season spiraled brutally out of control.

They would go on to win only one more game the rest of the way finishing with a 4-12 mark, resulting in a third consecutive losing season and a complete overhaul of both the front office and coaching staff.

Of course, disappointment is warranted in terms of what the team accomplished, but all that will ever matter is the progression of Sam Darnold; so let’s take a look at how exactly that turned out.

From weeks 12-15, Darnold was the highest-graded quarterback by Pro Football Focus with a 91.3. What that rating does not take into account is the talent that he was surrounded by.

According to again Pro Football Focus, the Jets had the 25th ranked offensive line and the best receiver on the team during that stretch was Andre Roberts, who best contributed on special teams. Those circumstances didn’t stop Darnold from competing valiantly finishing within one possession of the Titans, Texans and Packers.

After the loss against the Packers, Aaron Rodgers praised the rookie, via Steve Serby of the New York Post.

“He played great, He played good. I like his game. He threw the ball well, but he’s moving around, making plays on the run. I think he has a bright future. I think all of those guys that are playing this year have an opportunity to be the next crop of guys.”

He has taken that praise directly to heart and has continued to add to his already-tremendous work ethic.

According to the Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Darnold gathered some teammates in Southern California to work on building chemistry for new and old arrivals alike. Some of the reported names who were there include Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa.

This would follow right in line with the goals of this receiving group, especially Anderson, who placed high expectations on himself when he proclaimed, “I know my capabilities. I know what I want to become … and that’s the best receiver in the NFL.”

Darnold’s predecessors have either failed at or weren’t there long enough to engage with members of the team in this fashion. It is incredibly encouraging to see the quarterback at such a young age hold others accountable, something that has been a major criticism of the Jets organization as a whole the last couple of years.

When Jamal Adams said he was looking for more dogs on the team, he was 100% not talking about Number 14. He already knew young Sam Darnold is a dog.

My name is Matthew Gold and I’m entering my Sophomore Year at Pennsylvania State University with plans to major in Business Management.