When Sam Darnold failed to show up at the start of training camp due to disagreements in off-set language in his contract, I read a few fan reactions stating that his chance at a starting spot evaporated with every minute he wasn’t in the facility. I completely understood Sam’s reasons for holding out, he needs to protect himself and his future earnings but as a rookie and especially a rookie QB, every snap is vital, so I also understood the concerns of the fan base. It’s not easy learning a new system, it’s not easy getting used to the verbiage, or getting used to a new set of teammates or a new city. The Jets have tried to make it as easy as possible, giving Darnold the support system and implementing a QB friendly offensive system, one that’s Darnold is excelling in.
its important to remember that we haven’t seen Darnold in a game situation but the early signs are positive. Can you remember so much positivity around a Jets rookie QB? From a media who have historically got their kicks from beating down any hope of optimism this fan base has managed to conjure. Will Darnold have growing pains? Of course he will, every single rookie QB has a moment where you scratch your head and say ‘‘what??” - You can look at his interceptions in college and his fumbles and blame it on the supporting cast or some default mechanics that caused issues. You can believe that he has them rectified, but until he’s in a game situation with seconds to make a decision and a 350lb lineman chasing him down, we just don’t know, but here’s what we do know, his football maturity is beyond his years.
We’ve all been following his progress closely and if you listen to him talk, he’s a man with his head firmly on his shoulders. He’s a rookie QB who works through his progressions, looks off defenders and delivers a catchable ball on time and in the right place. Much has been made about his elongated throwing motion, but really watch closely and you’ll see how quickly the ball comes out when it needs to come out. In just over a week, he’s showed more ability than I’ve seen in years. Throwing in the pocket, throwing on the run, adjusting his play based on defender positioning, making smart choices and largely, protecting the football. Again it’s important to remember that we haven’t seen him against live defences in a proper environment, that’ll come Friday night with the first pre-season game. Perhaps we’ll have to come back and change our perception of his progress after that, perhaps not. Sam is showing that he has an NFL head to match his NFL physical skills, and that’s the key if he wants to start the season under center.
It’s OK to be excited by the early signs of the Jets having a franchise QB, it’s fine to be excited when beat reporters tweet about him throwing to his 3rd read for a TD. It’s OK to be excited when a fan posts a video on Instagram of Sam throwing on the run accurately after escaping a pocket that broke down quickly. We can’t get ahead of ourselves, but it’s OK to be excited. After all, we’ve waited long enough.