- The New York Jets had high hopes for Sam Darnold when they drafted him with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
- He was going to make them relevant in their division, if not the AFC and NFL.
- He hasn’t come close to living up to the hype. His lack of success and progress have some comparing him to another first-round dud.
During his rookie season, Sam Darnold showed flashes of potential, but also made his fair share of rookie mistakes–not unusual. Fans hoped to see him make some progress last season. But a nasty case of mono to start the season sidelined him for a few weeks. Having to learn a new system did not help, either.
But entering Year Three, fans were hopeful once again. He was healthy, more familiar with the offense, had better weapons around him, and had played a lot of football. Darnold was no longer a rookie or a first-year starter. He survived his sophomore season and was now a seasoned vet.
It was time to emerge from his cocoon and become the franchise quarterback the team thought he could be coming out of college. Then Week One happened.
Week One vs. Buffalo Bills
After an ugly first half that saw the Jets fall behind 21-3, the offense was a little more productive in the second—but not much better. A 69-yard bomb from Darnold to Jamison Crowder got the Jets within 11, but they never really threatened to get into the game.
A late touchdown during garbage time made the final 27-17.
As disappointing as the loss was, Darnold’s performance made it even worse. He missed wide-open receivers. The interception was simply an awful play. He got called for a delay of game following a TV timeout. In short, he looked like a rookie all over again.
In Year Three, that is unacceptable, and it has some starting to compare him to another first-round dud—Blake Bortles.
Blake Bortles vs. Sam Darnold
Like Darnold, Bortles was taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 Draft. While he did show some potential early on with the Jaguars, like Darnold, he was inconsistent and prone to bad games. But the comparison is even closer when you look at their stats:
- Through 27 starts, Darnold has gone 533-for-890 (59.9 completion percentage) for 6,104 yards with 37 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. His QB rating through those games—80.3.
- As for Bortles, through his first 27 starts, he went 577-for-990 (58.3 completion percentage) for 6,506 yards with 40 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. His QB rating was just 79.3.
Now Bortles did manage to get his team into the AFC Championship and even had a great chance to win the game. But he had the benefit of a solid run game and a great defense. Darnold has had neither during his time with the Jets.
Maybe if the Jets secured at least one of those, Darnold could have a little more success. Then again, if he did, the Jets would probably only succeed in delaying the inevitable—renewing the search for a new franchise quarterback.
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