At last, Sam Darnold is showing promise under Adam Gase.
The New York Jets’ second-year quarterback looks to have found his footing under the franchise’s first-year head coach — who was brought on largely to help develop the young, franchise passer.
Darnold and the Jets are winners of two straight after a 34-17 triumph over the Washington Redskins in Landover, MD on Sunday afternoon.
They’ve taken advantage of their once-in-four-year matchups with the NFC East, picking up all three of their victories against teams from that division; most notably in Week 10 against the Giants.
But the optimism surrounding Darnold — not so much Gase despite getting a vote of confidence from Jets ownership — was non-existent during the first half of the 2019 season.
Headlined by a bout with mononucleosis that held him out for three games, Darnold struggled mightily under center as the Jets began the season 1-7.
The offense was a complete non-factor, averaging just 12 points per game during that stretch while scoring eight touchdowns.
So, what has changed?
Not much. Darnold didn’t throw the ball more often nor we see a sizable boost in his aggression throwing the ball downfield.
It might just be coming down to the quality of defenses that the Jets have matched up against over the past two weeks.
The Giants and Redskins’ overall defenses rank within the bottom 11 of the NFL. The two are in the bottom 10 in net yards gained per pass attempt and quarterback sacks.
This has given a reprieve to the Jets’ struggling offensive line which yielded tons of pressure on their young quarterback.
With more time to throw, Darnold has seen a bump in his stats as he’s gotten more opportunities to break down the opposing defense.
Is this a reason to limit expectations? Sure. But Darnold is showing that if the Jets can build their offensive line correctly in the future, his chances of living up to the hype will only increase.
Here’s a look at his recent splits:
Sam Darnold Stats vs. Giants, Redskins
Average Time to Throw: 3.21 seconds (h/t NFL Next Gen Stats)
Average Attempts per Game: 30
Completion Percentage: 63.33%
Yards per Game: 261.5
Yards Gained per Pass Attempt: 8.72
Quarterback Rating: 112.0
Jets Offense Points per Game: 30.5
Average NFL Rank of Opposing Defenses: 25th
Sam Darnold Stats through first 5 games
Average Time to Throw: 2.62 seconds
Average Attempts per Game: 34.8
Completion Percentage: 63.22%
Yards per Game: 215.4
Yards Gained per Pass Attempt: 6.19
Quarterback Rating: 70.5
Jets Offense Points per Game: 12.0
Average NFL Rank of Opposing Defenses: 11th