Todd Bowles is not naturally effusive from the podium during his press conferences but even the New York Jets head coach had to heap a certain level of praise on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
It was an impressive first game of the preseason for Darnold, who helped the Jets in a 17-0 win on Friday night over the Atlanta Falcons. The Jets rookie, taken third overall in the NFL Draft, went 13-for-18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. It was an overall hype-inducing display from Darnold in the preseason opener and the quarterback continued to up his work rate on Sunday with even more reps in training camp.
The majority of Darnold’s snaps came against the Falcons third-team defense, for what it is worth.
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Nevertheless, it is an upward progression for Darnold after a sparkling showing against the Falcons. It is especially positive for the rookie as he missed the first few days of training camp with a contractual holdout.
“It's more important to get him working. First, second or third team they are going to be different guys throughout the game - whether they get hurt or not,” Bowles said on Sunday. “It's just important to get him working and caught up on certain things the defenses are doing. That's more important than getting reps on first, second or third team.”
Bowles wouldn’t commit to who starts among the trio of quarterbacks for the Jets on Thursday night against the Washington Redskins. Among the group that includes Darnold and veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, it is clear that things are heating up in the quarterback battle.
After reviewing the win from the preseason win, Bowles offered up a frank assessment on how his rookie quarterback performed in his first game with the Jets.
“He can get the ball off quicker. Obviously from the shot clock, getting to the line, the good throws and you can see but just overall game operation,” Bowles said. “As he plays he gets experience and that's to be expected. So we are happy with what we saw. He got some things to build on, as does Teddy, as does Josh and we'll go from there.”