QB Sam Darnold - New York Jets
|6-4, 225||Born: 6-5-1997||College: Southern California||Drafted: Round 1, pick|
News you need to know
General News (Fri Feb 1): said he is "excited" to work with head coach Adam Gase and believes Gase can make him a better quarterback. "I think he's going to help me with everything, mechanics, but mainly how to play the position in the NFL," Darnold said.
Week 21: bye week
Recent Stats and Projections
Weekly Performance vs QB 1, QB 12, QB 24
Sam Darnold's percentile rank in each category, among QB with more than 50 fantasy points.
Recent Game Summaries
2018 Week 17 vs NE (16 / 28 / 167 / 0 / 0 pass, 1 / 28 / 0 rush)
After multiple strong games after returning from injury, Sam Darnold ran into Bill Belichick, who has a penchant for messing with rookie quarterbacks and the result was not pretty, but not tragic either. Darnold struggled, and behind a line which has consistently let the team down this year, was sacked four times. Some of that was on Darnold, but the constant pressure made sure any onlooker know it wasn't all his fault. While he failed to notch a touchdown there were still several impressive throws. One came in the middle of the second quarter with the Jets already down 21-3. On a 3-and-9 at his own 49 yard line, Darnold lined up with three receivers on his right, two of them stacked. Fellow USC rookie Deontay Burnett was one of the stacked players and ran a deep out, right into space cleared by the outside receiver. Burnett had a step on his coverage, but the defender wasn't that far behind. Darnold dropped a perfect pass along the sideline over the defender's head where Burnett made a nice grab. Darnold did cough up a fumble which the Patriots returned for a score. Darnold clearly felt pressure and adjusted but when attempting to extend the play with his legs, the ball was stripped. While this was a major concern coming out of USC, it hasn't been an issue this season, but this time it was. Overall, Darnold showed a nice progression this season, especially in the last four games and even though the Pats had his - and the Jets' - number, he performed well enough to make Jets fans very happy.
2018 Week 16 vs GB (24 / 35 / 341 / 3 / 0 pass, 3 / 4 / 0 rush)
Since coming back from injury in Week 14, Sam Darnold has improved every week, culminating in Sunday's performance against the Green Bay Packers. In about as flawless a performance as any rookie quarterback this season, Darnold completed 68.5 percent of his passes, and didn't turn over the ball once, and in fact hasn't turned the ball over since his interception in Week 14, with six touchdowns compared to one touchdown. Darnold also led the Jets down the field on a pair of drives to take the lead and extend it in the third quarter. Unfortunately, his final drive stalled and the Jets had to settle for a field goal, sending the game into overtime, where the Packers scored on the only possession of the half. Darnold's first touchdown was an easy catch-and-run for Robby Anderson, who has become the rookie's favorite target. The Packers bit hard on a fake screen pass to Elijah McGuire, and Darnold was quick to turn and hit a wide open Anderson, who took it the last ten yards for a score. Darnold hit fellow rookie Chris Herndon for another wide open touchdown, this time with a nice look-off of the coverage while Herndon slipped out into the flat, improving the lead to 28-20. His final touchdown was a dump off to running back Elijah McGuire for a 20-yard score, with the Packers bringing a little pressure. While none of these throws were incredible, the performance overall was very good, with Darnold showing patience on each drive regardless of situation, awareness of what that situation was, and the wisdom to avoid forcing throws which weren't there.
2018 Week 15 vs HOU (24 / 38 / 253 / 2 / 0 pass, 6 / 35 / 0 rush)
For the second week in a row, rookie Sam Darnold looked really good, hitting just over 63 percent of his passes and averaging 10.54 yards per completion. The completion percentage is significantly higher than his overall year average of 55.5 percent, although slightly down from the 66.7 he notched last week against the Bills. The Jets are seeing a significant improvement in their first round pick, and not just in terms of statistics. Darnold is making better decisions, and being more careful with the ball. While he still dodges some bullets when defenders drop a pass that should have been an interception, those are less frequent. He did spend a ton of time scrambling behind an offensive line suffering from shoddy play again this week, but for the most part he showed a great deal of ability to extend the play with his legs until a receiver came open or he could gain some yardage himself. Darnold was a big factor in the Jets coming back at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second as he orchestrated two sharp drives capped off with a touchdown each time. The first time, on a score to Robby Anderson, Darnold had to step up through the offensive line to buy time to throw the ball. Darnold showed excellent field awareness, making sure he didn't cross the line of scrimmage and delivered a perfect pass to Anderson along the back of the end zone. The second throw was to Andre Robertson a 3rd-and-5 from the Houston 13 yard line. Darnold had plenty of time and saw Roberts shake his coverage a little with a double move. Darnold short-armed the pass a little, so it ended up behind the receiver just a little, but Roberts adjusted and made a nice catch. Perhaps his best throw, however, was to tight end Chris Herndon in the fourth quarter to extend a drive on a long third down. On the play, Darnold was flushed from the pocket and ran to his right, eyes downfield the entire time. He could have run for a couple of yards, but would have been well short of a first. Instead, he saw Herndon downfield with a man covering him along the sideline. He needed to make a pinpoint thrown in order to put the ball over a defender's head while also keeping it away from the coverage along the sideline, and he did so, giving his tight end a nice pass for a big gain.
2018 Week 14 vs BUF (16 / 24 / 170 / 1 / 1 pass, 4 / 10 / 0 rush)
In his first action since Week 9, the rookie looked better as the game went on, his day culminating in a very nice nine play, 61 drive to put his team ahead for good near the end of the fourth quarter. Doing that in the cold, on the road was the most impressive part of the drive, but it's worth noting that it was the rare time when head coach Todd Bowles took a chance and went on fourth down to win, versus just playing to tie. That gave Darnold the opportunity to win a game, even if the play to do it was a handoff to Elijah McGuire. Darnold was 3-of-5 passing on that drive, including a dime to Robby Anderson down the sideline to put the Jets on the Bills' front doorstep. On that play, Anderson was pretty well covered by the corner, but managed to give himself enough room along the sideline for Darnold to throw. The quarterback fired off a perfect pass, over his receiver's outside shoulder where the corner couldn't make a play, and Anderson did a nice job of getting both feet in for a 37-yard gain. Another impressive effort resulting in an Anderson catch was on an earlier drive to tie the game at 20. On the play, a 3rd-and-5 in the fourth quarter, the Jets were on the Bills 7- yard line. Darnold dropped back to pass but found nobody open and was flushed out of the pocket by defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Darnold moved to his right, evaded a diving Williams, and then with several Buffalo defenders nipping at his heels, cut left and ran upfield. During this, Darnold did an excellent job of keeping his eyes downfield and scanning for an outlet. He eventually found one in Anderson along the middle of the end zone and delivered a perfect pass for the score. Darnold looked a tad rusty to start the game, but came alive in the fourth quarter and overall showed some of the skills which had Jets fans excited early in the season, despite the usual conservative playcalling for much of the game. What's more, he did it against what has been considered one of the best pass defenses in the NFL this season.
2018 Week 9 vs MIA (21 / 39 / 229 / 0 / 4 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
There is a lot to unpack here, but the bottom line is this was a debacle for Darnold. The rookie looked every bit a lost soul in the backfield, made some horrendous decisions and looked as though he had completely forgotten how to throw the ball. Darnold's mechanics were terrible on Sunday, and that plus some truly horrible decisions added up to a day he will likely try to wipe from memory. As bad as Darnold was, the play of center Spencer Long was worse. Long, who supposedly re-injured a dislocated middle finger during the game, was a disastrous blight on the offense, with snaps going high, low, to the side and everywhere but to Darnold. What was truly baffling was the coaching staff's refusal to pull Long until late in the game, even though his antics were clearly making Darnold's already no-good, very bad day even worse. Darnold was also the victim of multiple drops and Jermaine Kearse who set up to catch a ball with his feet out of bounds. Darnold looks as though he has regressed, with a lack of ability to read defenses and a proclivity to force the ball where it shouldn't go resulting in four interceptions. While the Jets hope this is a low-water mark, if they don't make some changes around Darnold and how they handle him, this could be the start of a downward slide.
2018 Week 8 vs CHI (14 / 29 / 153 / 1 / 0 pass, 5 / 22 / 0 rush)
It's really hard to completely judge Sam Darnold with the supporting cast around him right now. His best receiver is Jermaine Kearse, who disappeared in the second half of the game and was hurt during the course of it, and Deontay Burnett, Darnold's old college teammate. That lack of weapons robs Darnold of reliable players who can hang on to the ball, and also gave the coaching staff an excuse to not test the Bears deep. Mediocre receivers who can't get open forces Darnold to scramble and hope that he can outlast the pass rush so a receiver gets open, which is no way to run the offense. A lack of run game hurts as well, and the Jets were third-and-long time after time on nearly every drive. That is not to absolve Darnold of mistakes, and even on his one scoring drive, Darnold nearly got picked off. At the end of the day, though, Darnold played fine, showing good decision-making, throwing no picks and not getting stripped of the ball. Against a tough Bears defense, that's not bad.
2018 Week 7 vs MIN (17 / 42 / 206 / 1 / 3 pass, 6 / 18 / 1 rush)
Being brutally honest, this was an awful game from Sam Darnold. Yes, he had some nice moments, but for the most part his throws were off target and he made numerous bad decisions which led to turnovers or missed opportunities. These things will happen with rookie quarterbacks. It's worth pointing out that he was working with mostly special teams and practice squad players at wide receiver and that there were times where those guys just weren't where they were supposed to be. His three interceptions showed both sides of the coin. Darnold's fourth quarter interception by the Vikings Trae Waynes came off a perfectly thrown pass that bounced off the hands of Charone Peake. Backup Holton Hill picked Darnold off just before Waynes did on a ball which wasn't well thrown by any means, but certainly appeared as if receiver Andre Roberts wasn't where Darnold thought he would be. The first interception, in the third quarter was a Harrison Smith pick off a tipped ball by Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes. Darnold should have seen Rhodes had Robby Anderson well covered, and either adjusted his throw to go deeper towards the sideline or simply gone another way. He locked onto Anderson early though, and never adjusted. The best case scenario was an incompletion, but Darnold ended up with the worst case scenario instead. Darnold also suffered through numerous bad drops by his receivers on what could have been some significant gains. On one play, Darnold dodges a pass rusher on 3rd and 12, moved to his right and hit a wide-open Eric Tomlinson with only one defender between him and the end zone. Tomlinson dropped the pass. The good parts are still there for Darnold, and while he had a lot of self-inflicted wounds, he also needs more help from his supporting cast.
2018 Week 6 vs IND (24 / 30 / 280 / 2 / 1 pass, 6 / 8 / 0 rush)
In what was far and away his best outing, rookie Sam Darnold 80 percent of his passes for an average of 11.6 yards per completion, both season highs. After a brutal early interception where Darnold stared down his receiver and threw off his back foot, the former USC quarterback had a nearly flawless day. Darnold made a lot of plays with his feet, buying time outside the pocket and patiently waiting for a receiver to get open, looking to throw rather than run. He also threw some pinpoint accurate passes, like his first touchdown pass late in the second quarter, a 7-yard throw to Terrelle Pryor. On the play, Pryor ran a short route into the end zone and turned around. He was bracketed by a pair of defenders, but Darnold didn't hesitate, fitting the ball between them and right to Pryor. Another promising improvement for Darnold is his improved accuracy on easy throws. Early on this season there were times when Darnold would miss an open target but the last two weeks he has made the easy throws as well as the tough ones. His toss to tight end Chris Herndon in the third quarter, a 32-yard catch and run off a nice play-action fake, was a simple throw to a wide-open target and Darnold made it look as easy as it was.
2018 Week 5 vs DEN (10 / 22 / 198 / 3 / 1 pass, 3 / 5 / 0 rush)
The Jets rookie quarterback had what was easily his best day against a Denver Broncos defense which struggled in the secondary and couldn't get past an inspired line save for one sack and a total of three quarterback hits. Darnold also benefited from a great run game, which made sure the defense couldn't afford to focus on just making Darnold a tackling dummy. Darnold's yards per completion jumped up to 19.8, helped by three touchdown passes 20-yards or longer. The first was a 76-yard score by Robby Anderson, which Darnold dropped perfectly in front of the receiver, who didn't have to break stride on his way to the end zone. The second was an absolute dime to Anderson again for a 35-yard score, which Darnold threw over a defender and in perfect placement for the well-covered receiver in the end zone. The final one, a 20-yard pass to Terrelle Pryor, was a little long but Pryor bailed Darnold out a bit with a dynamic one-handed grab. While Darnold's completion percentage is still slumping, his overall ball placement and throws, especially once he got going, showed improvement, and while one game does not a career make, this was a step in the right direction.
2018 Week 4 vs JAX (17 / 34 / 167 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 8 / 0 rush)
To the surprise of no one who has watched the Jaguars defense this year, the Jets rookie's struggles continued this weekend. While his footwork looked good and his short accuracy was once again solid, he struggled on deeper balls and in the second half he tried to thread the needle a few too many times, taking chances which he was lucky didn't turn out disastrous. It could be he's starting to feel pressure to carry the offense, and so he's making some desperate -- but unwise -- passes. That's a concern though, because he missed a few throws high and had an interception on a throw he sailed over Bilal Powell's head called back due to a defensive holding. That was one of three throws in the second half that should have been interceptions, the other two being drops by Jacksonville. He did make a great throw to Jermaine Kearse on a third-and-nine in the third quarter which set the Jets up on a first and goal. On the play Kearse was covered but there was just enough room along the sideline for Darnold to fit the ball in. Kearse then did a great job of keeping his feet in bounds for the catch. Still, the high and wide throws were a concern, and he even managed to miss Quincy Enunwa on a key fourth-and-one late in the first half. While the drive still might not have resulted in a touchdown, it would have extended the drive, salvaged some momentum while the game was 13-0 and kept the Jaguars from scoring quickly in the other direction to make it 16-0. Darnold is a rookie and we are seeing rookie mistakes and growing pains, along with the result of bad offensive line play and a super-conservative game plan as well.
2018 Week 3 vs CLE (15 / 31 / 169 / 0 / 2 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)
Much like the rest of the New York Jets, Sam Darnold played two very different halves of football. While not Hall of Fame worthy, his first half was relatively mistake free. The Jets did much of their damage on the ground, but Darnold kept the Browns defense honest. In the second half, Darnold largely fell apart. While one of his two interceptions -- the one which clinched the Browns win -- might have been prevented by Robby Anderson doing more to disrupt the pass, it was still underthrown. His second interception was all on him, however. Darnold rushed the play to avoid a review of the previous first down, and the Browns brought heavy pressure. Darnold failed to see two important things. First, he had a receiver open for a short gain (the only type the Jets seem willing to design for - more on that shortly) and the fact that Jermaine Kearse was bracketed in coverage. Darnold was forced to hold the ball an extra second due to his guard being driven back into his face, but seemed to throw blindly. The Jets have refused to take the training wheels off of Darnold, and the impact is a stale, predictable offense. While Darnold's mistakes hurt the Jets, he will never grow past them if OC Jeremy doesn't let him loose a little. Baker Mayfield came in cold and took chances, and it worked out. At some point the Jets should give Darnold the same chance, but it's hard to see when that will be.
2018 Week 2 vs MIA (25 / 41 / 334 / 1 / 2 pass, 2 / 1 / 0 rush)
While Sam Darnold had a rough overall game, where he at times looked like the rookie he is, he still showed a lot of ability and toughness. Probably his worst throw came early, when he was baited by TJ McDonald and passed the ball right at the veteran. McDonald appeared to be shading to the middle of the field, but once he saw Darnold look away, he stepped into the passing lane and cut off a pass aimed for the slanting Quincy Enunwa. As is Darnold's habit though, he rebounded and played well most of the rest of the game. He did throw a second interception, but that one very much appeared to be the fault of his receiver Terrelle Pryor. Darnold was looking for Pryor on a slant but the receiver either didn't fully commit to the route or got so caught up in handfighting that he lost track of the ball. The pass was where it should have been, but Pryor wasn't. Darnold did find running back Bilal Powell on a nice intermediate route down the middle which Powell took for a score. Overall, Darnold made mostly good decisions and continues to show some improvement. He didn't get much help from his receivers, who several times dropped wide open passes, but once that stops happening, his production should go up.
2018 Week 1 vs DET (16 / 21 / 198 / 2 / 1 pass, 6 / -1 / 0 rush)
Things couldn't have gotten off to a worse start for the rookie quarterback Monday night, as his very first throw was picked off and returned for a touchdown. It was a questionable play call which saw Darnold rolling out to his right and then throwing across both his body and the entire field into what should have been an obvious safety. The Jets did a poor job of setting their quarterback up for success on that first play, and Darnold did a poor job of recognizing the play was going poorly and adjusting. In some ways, though, it seemed to take the pressure off Darnold, who came back and played, if not flawlessly, well enough for both the Jets and their fans to be happy. Darnold showed a lot of his good aspects -- resiliency, mobility, an ability to read defenses and adjust -- throughout the game. He also showed some flaws, whether it was underthrowing receivers or missing open routes. His 41-yard touchdown throw to Robby Anderson showed both the bad and the good. On the plus side, he correctly baited the safety into stepping forward, costing the player time, which allowed Anderson to gain a few steps on him as the receiver ran his route downfield. On the negative side, the ball was underthrown, and required Anderson to leap up and fight the defender for the ball. The good far outweighed the bad for Darnold though, and he showed tremendous poise and tenacity in overcoming early miscues to execute the offense.
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