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Sam vs The Record Books: Week 7

Minnesota Vikings v New York Jets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Week 7 of our season long tracking of Sam Darnold’s progress brings a setback, as Darnold struggled badly against the elements and against the gaffes of his own teammates in the Jets’ loss against the Minnesota Vikings. Darnold moves back down the lists as his rookie year is shaping up like many rookies before him; a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

A few things to keep in mind. All rankings herein are limited to rookie quarterbacks with at least 250 passing attempts in their rookie seasons. Prior to the 2018 season there have been 72 rookie quarterbacks with 250 or more passing attempts in the post merger era. Rate stats (like completion %) reflect actual current numbers for Darnold. Counting stats (like touchdowns or yards) reflect prorated numbers for Darnold assuming he continues to perform at the same level all season.

Let’s get to it. Below are a bunch of quarterback metrics, listing the all time rookie leaders for each and showing where Sam Darnold fits assuming he plays at the same level all season.


  1. Andrew Luck 4374
  2. Cam Newton 4051
  3. Jameis Winston 4042
  4. Carson Wentz 3782
  5. Peyton Manning 3739


8. Sam Darnold 3547


  1. Peyton Manning 26
  2. Russell Wilson 26 (Tie 1)
  3. Sam Darnold 23
  4. Andrew Luck 23
  5. Dak Prescott 23 (Tie 3)


  1. Peyton Manning 28
  2. Jim Zorn 27
  3. Terry Bradshaw 24
  4. Jeff Komlo 23
  5. Sam Darnold 23 (Tie 4)

Passer Rating

  1. Dak Prescott 104.9
  2. Robert Griffin III 102.4
  3. Russell Wilson 100
  4. Ben Roethlisberger 98.1
  5. Dan Marino 96


29. Sam Darnold 74.3


  1. Ben Roethlisberger 8.88
  2. Robert Griffin III 8.14
  3. Dak Prescott 7.99
  4. Russell Wilson 7.93
  5. Matt Ryan 7.93


18. Sam Darnold 7.02

Completion Percentage

  1. Dak Prescott 67.8
  2. Ben Roethlisberger 66.4
  3. Robert Griffin III 65.7
  4. Teddy Bridgewater 64.4
  5. Russell Wilson 64.1


34. Sam Darnold 56.1

Touchdown Percentage

  1. Dan Marino 6.8
  2. Russell Wilson 6.6
  3. Jim Plunkett 5.8
  4. Ben Roethlisberger 5.8 (Tie 3)
  5. Steve Bartkowski 5.1
  6. Robert Griffin III 5.1 (Tie 5)
  7. Marcus Mariota 5.1 (Tie 5)
  8. Jake Plummer 5.1 (Tie 5)


14. Sam Darnold 4.5 (Tie)

Interception Percentage

  1. Dak Prescott 0.9
  2. Robert Griffin III 1.3
  3. Nick Foles 1.9
  4. Charlie Batch 2.0
  5. Derek Carr 2.0 (Tie 4)


51. Sam Darnold 4.5

As the season wears on the sample gets larger and the results more stable. The picture is becoming a bit more clear each week. The numbers are starting to look decent to good but not great in many categories for Darnold. One thing that may be a bit concerning is that Darnold ranks below league average in every major category this season. Although rookies often struggle, most of the rookies that go on to have excellent NFL careers manage to be at or above league average in at least one major statistical category in their rookie years. It’s not a foolproof standard, there have been exceptions, but if Darnold does not manage to at least make it to league average in at least one statistical category by year end it is not a particularly good omen for his career. Still plenty of time for things to change. We’ll track these numbers throughout the year and see how this unfolds.