Despite pedestrian raw stats and another New York Jets loss, Sam Darnold was rated as one of the best quarterbacks in Week 2 of the NFL.
Things are going to click for Sam Darnold sooner or later. He has far too much talent to be a bust, but he’s not quite ready to lift a team as bad as the New York Jets are right now. Darnold was the sixth-highest rated quarterback in Week 2 according to Pro Football Focus. However, the Jets were still dismantled 31-13 at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.
— PFF NY Jets (@PFF_Jets) September 21, 2020
The top eight quarterbacks in Week 2, according to PFF, were Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Sam Darnold, Mitchell Trubisky, and Dak Prescott. Most of those guys put up much better raw stats than Darnold, but he took care of the football and was the victim of multiple costly drops.
Darnold, 23, wasn’t perfect on Sunday — and more on that in a moment — but he showcased one of the truly special plays that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the draft not too long ago.
On his best play of Week 2, he was flushed from the pocket because of the interior pass rush, avoids a sack, and flicks a dart from across his body to Braxton Berrios on the run. It was the only Jets touchdown of the game and while it did come during garbage time, it’s impossible to deny that it was an absolute gem from Darnold.
Per science, Sam Darnold should be a consistent stud on a non-Gase team pic.twitter.com/2hO38BNrxn
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 22, 2020
The third-year quarterback only threw for 179 yards on 21-for-32 passing for one touchdown, but don’t read into the counting stats too much. Tight end Chris Herndon dropped a touchdown pass that was a perfect throw from Darnold. If his playmakers made a few more plays for him, Darnold’s stats would have looked much better in the box score on Monday morning.
It’s also worth noting that Darnold’s top weapons right now are Herndon, Berrios, and Chris Hogan. Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine are his outlets from the backfield and neither running back is much of a pass-catcher.
In addition to the lack of weapons, Adam Gase‘s antiquated offense isn’t doing him any favors either. The lack of pre-snap motion is one of the most concerning things about this offense, but the fact that Gase bars Darnold from making audibles on some plays is another issue.
Part of that is on Darnold because he doesn’t always make the right pre-snap reads, but the coach has to trust his young quarterback to grow over time.
Darnold isn’t perfect by a long shot. He’s at his best when he’s on the run, but when he’s in the pocket he can get happy feet and have his throws sail on him. Part of that can probably be attributed to Gase’s shoddy playcalling and sub-par offense. Another reason for Darnold’s happy feet is likely because he has always been playing behind brutal offensive lines.
However, all the blame can’t be on the people around him. At some point, Darnold needs to be able to make the guys around him better. That’s part of the job as an NFL quarterback.
Darnold’s Blindside is Safe Because of Mekhi Becton
There was one big bright spot for the Jets on offense Sunday and we’re putting an emphasis on the word “big” for a reason. Mekhi Becton was a monster for the second consecutive week. Baldy’s Breakdowns are the best thing Jets fans will watch each week.
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 22, 2020
Becton is quickly becoming an elite offensive lineman and he might be the best offensive rookie in football right now. It’s tough for a lineman to elevate a bad offense to the point where the general public will notice it, but make no mistake, Becton is an absolute beast.
He’s already the ninth-best offensive tackle in football according to PFF. There are still some kinks to work out in pass protection, but he already looks like an elite offensive lineman.
There are a lot of reasons to be down on the Jets right now, but Becton and Darnold are not the problems.