With Sam Darnold, future could be now for Jets
FLORHAMPARK, N.J. » Even Broadway Joe thinks the New York Jets might finally have their next franchise quarterback.
Joe Namath met Sam Darnold on the field at MetLife Stadium before the team’s third preseason game and it provided quite the snapshot.
Past meets future — and, maybe, the present.
“I’ve seen Sam perform tonight,” Namath said during the TV broadcast, “better than I’ve seen any rookies I can remember.”
That’s high praise from the only man to quarterback the Jets to a Super Bowl victory.
And that came 50 seasons ago. The stunning win over the Colts will be celebrated by the team and its fans this year. It’s also a brutal reminder of how long it has been since the Jets were on top of the football world.
Darnold, they hope, can someday end that drought.
“That’s the goal for everyone,” Darnold said a few weeks after being drafted No. 3 overall. “Anything short of that is a failure and we’re aware of that. Everyone is aware of that. Whatever my role is, I’m going to star in that role to work us toward that Super Bowl.”
The former USC star had a solid summer and impressed the coaching staff with his ability to quickly digest the playbook along with his veteran-like presence and approach.
Darnold was given every
chance to win the competition that included Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, and he didn’t disappoint.
“He’s able to take the classroom knowledge and all the stuff he’s studied in the classroom and take it right to the field and execute it,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “We’re throwing a lot of football at him and he’s been able to handle it.”
Darnold could become the 31st quarterback to start a game for the Jets since Namath’s last appearance for the franchise in 1976. That’s a lot of searching and a long time waiting.
There’s big- time hope that Darnold is the answer, and that has the Jets and their fans optimistic about this season — and the future.
“He did everything we’ve asked him to do,” coach Todd Bowles said.
Here are some other things to know as the Jets enter the regular season:
WHOSE LINE IS IT?
While all eyes have been on the quarterbacks, the offensive line will be a major focus — no matter who’s calling the plays in the huddle.
The Jets signed center Spencer Long, who’s an upgrade over Wesley Johnson, but the rest of the line is back. And, it remains to be seen if that’s a good thing.
Inconsistency and injuries made for a shaky season, and depth this year could be an issue. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum dealt with an ankle injury most of the summer, and right guard Brian Winters was in and out of the lineup with soreness.
“They’ve got to work together,” Bowles said of the line. “They have to be healthy, obviously, but I feel good about them when they are healthy.” SEARCH CONTINUES One of the priorities for the Jets during the offseason was to find a pass-rushing presence, particularly at outside linebacker.
No one emerged during training camp, and that could be something general manager Mike Maccagnan tries to address as the season goes along.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws a pass against the New York Giants during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game Friday in East Rutherford, N.J.
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles talks to reporters during NFL football training camp, Wednesday in Florham Park, N.J.