Don’t worry about Sam Darnold, he’s ready for his close-up.
The Jets made it official when head coach Todd Bowles named Sam Darnold as their starting quarterback. When they begin their season next Monday night, in Detroit, it’ll be Darnold leading the offense on the field.
The move means the 21-year old Darnold becomes the youngest ever opening day starting quarterback. This was the decision everyone around the Jets were expecting.
The Jets gave Darnold the opportunity to start in week two and week three of the preseason, the third preseason game is generally considered the most important one. He held up his end by completing 29 of 45 passes in the preseason for 244 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
This wasn’t a surprise by any means. Bowles is known for keeping his decisions close to the vest and guarded. But, in this case, all signs were pointing towards this being one of the worst-kept secrets in his time as head coach.
Bowles made it official for everyone on Labor Day.
“We feel like he gives us a good chance to win,” Bowles said. “We’re not starting him to because he’s a rookie and not ready. He gives us a good chance to win … he’s earned the right to start.”
Darnold’s a rookie, but he’s done everything asked of him by the Jets in training camp and preseason. The expectations will be high, as they should be. The Jets moved up to the 2018 draft board to get Darnold with the third overall pick.
The reality of the situation is that Darnold does give the Jets a good chance to win. Preseason games against opponents not showing their entire playbook isn’t what Darnold should be judged on. But his poise under pressure and ability to move the football down the field shouldn’t be ignored.
Poise and preparation have been strengths displayed by Darnold, on and off the field. He eats, sleeps, and breaths football. Bowles has praised his ability to quickly process information. In preseason, Darnold’s pocket awareness and footwork stood out the most. He’s earned the respect of his teammates and peers around the league.
Darnold is the only quarterback from this year’s draft class to be named a starter for week one. This indicates he’s excelled in the areas expected of him.
The road won’t be easy, there will be plenty of bumps ahead for Darnold. But he’s shown he’s ready for the opportunity.
Let the Sam Darnold era begin.