Darnold Shines in Debut

Jack Cavaioli, Editor

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When the New York Jets drafted quarterback Sam Darnold with the third pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, they were confident that he would be the star franchise player for years to come. The California kid who had left USC a year early to enter the draft was one of the most praised and hyped up quarterbacks in recent memory. After a great summer training camp and preseason, Darnold was ready to go for real in the regular season. Head coach Todd Bowles had just named Darnold the starter a week before the Monday night matchup with the Detroit Lions on ESPN. The kid was ready to go.

The Jets received  the ball first to start the game, and the faithful Jets fans who had endured all the suffering over the years were ready to see their savior in action. Darnold jogged out into the field and called the play in the huddle. He rolled out to his right under pressure, and saw an open man, Bilal Powell, to his left. Darnold planted his feet and threw across his body. Intercepted. Definitely not what he wanted on his first NFL career throw, but to make things even worse, it was run back for a touchdown. 7-0 Lions. Just like that. The Lions crowd was louder than any crowd he’d ever heard in his college days.

Through all of this the 21-year-old rookie looked unphased as he jogged back to the sideline and waited to get the ball back on the kickoff. Darnold was poised to not let one throw define how the rest of his career would go, and came back on the field as if nothing had happened and was ready to roll.

Darnold went on to have an excellent game, finishing 16-21 passing with 198 yards and 2 touchdowns and one interception, giving the Jets the 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. He didn’t let that one bad throw get to him and ruin his first  career start. Instead, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and delivered the best first start by a rookie since legendary Tom Brady did it in 2001. According to an ESPN report, “He became the first quarterback since Tom Brady in 2001 to win by at least 31 points in his first start.” Adding on to that, head coach Todd Bowles said, “He didn’t flinch. He didn’t even blink.” Coach Bowles’ confidence in his rookie quarterback was a key role in Darnold’s recovery to having a great game.

Is the Sam Darnold era just what the Jets need to finally become a superior team in the AFC and make a deep playoff run? Only time will tell, but it is definitely off to a great start. The Jets faithful have high high hopes for their franchise quarterback, and hopefully he can live up to the hype and produce for the biggest sports city in the world.

* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license