Most of last season, he probably had less media attention than Trevor Lawrence who was still at Clemson but believed to be the next Jets quarterback.
Now that Lawrence is most likely headed to Jacksonville, what does that mean for Sam Darnold, the 3rd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft?
Is he a franchise quarterback?
Yes, he is, and here is why.
What Sam Darnold Has
1. He Is Mobile.
Darnold is a mobile quarterback.
What is not clear is if Darnold’s success on running plays has more to do with the fact he’s running for his life, or if the play is designed as a run play for him.
SAM DARNOLD’S UNREAL TD RUN 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 2, 2020
2. He Has Better Instincts Than Stats.
Given the opportunity to go through his progressions and have some protection, he is a playmaker.
Yes, he has a propensity to throw interceptions.
He would not be the first franchise quarterback with that issue.
Darnold is still very young at 23 years old.
He needs to be mentored before throwing in the towel and saying he is not capable of being a franchise quarterback.
Over his three-year career, he has thrown for 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions.
He has rushed for 417 yards and 5 touchdowns.
What He Hasn’t Had As A New York Jet
1. Good Coaching
Adam Gase did not help the New York Jets or Sam Darnold.
The Jets won two games in 2020; many Jets fans wanted Gase fired on a weekly basis throughout the entire season.
the best time to fire Adam Gase has been every single day since the day he was hired https://t.co/GyxQQhOBGi
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) January 2, 2021
Somehow Gase kept his job for two seasons; he finished with a 9-23 record.
Adam Gase, the offensive genius, managed just one TD tonight vs. an 0-3 team who came across the country on a short week and that was Sam Darnold putting rollerblades on and running one in from midfield.
That’s coaching to where football is going @nyjets.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) October 2, 2020
2. Supporting Cast Of Players
Both have organizations that are adding players to help them succeed.
That just does not seem to be the culture for the New York Jets during Sam Darnold’s tenure.
It certainly was not the case last season.
Sam Darnold can be good, I don’t get why people are out on him, he’s running for his life on every single play he legitimately has not had a chance for success
— Dr. Ru (@DumbPhillyFan) October 2, 2020
And it is a recurring theme.
While Sam Darnold looks every bit the part of the @nyjets starting quarterback through two preseason games, he will not be the success everyone expects him to be if he’s running for his life due to poor offensive line play. #Jets #NYJets @NFL https://t.co/ovCgI8Xwd6 pic.twitter.com/pS2JldcQWH
— More Sports Now (@MoreSportsNow) August 21, 2018
Expecting a young quarterback to be a franchise guy without giving him an offensive line and weapons who can help him is pure craziness.
There Are So Many Doubters
Around the NFL, Darnold is not viewed as a winner.
Asking around on Sam Darnold, and the sense I get from scouts, coaches, and executives is that the perception of him among fans and some in media is significantly higher than of those inside the league.
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) March 17, 2021
This negative perception could hurt him more than anything.
It seems as though someone will have to take a chance on him.
Will it be similar to the second opportunity that the Buffalo Bills are giving Mitch Trubisky?
Maybe it will be a short-term deal with a new team similar to that.
Either way, Sam Darnold is a 23-year-old quarterback who needs a change of scenery and new supporting people to help him reach a higher level of play in the NFL.
Whether he gets that this year, his fourth year under contract, or it comes in 2022 or beyond is also up in the air.