See Sam Pass! See Sam Run! See Sam Win!
Is there a better gift this year?
With Sam Darnold on target, everything else was clicking for the Jets offense. It was a balanced attack that was highlighted by some big plays. Isaiah Crowell who rushed for 102 yards broke one for a 62-yard touchdown. Reliable Bilal Powell added 60 more yards. Quincy Enunwa caught 6 passes for 63 yards and Terrelle Pryor and Tight end Neal Sterling each had 3 catches. As mentioned Anderson had 1 reception for a 41-yard touchdown. The Jet third down efficiency was 42% 6-14. The balance was reflected in the passing/rushing yards which was 180/169. The Jets offensive line which was of great concern going into the game more than held their own. They did get a stroke of luck when the Lions’ Ezekiel Ansah went of the game in the first half with an injury. Nevertheless, the line handled the point of attack well and this unit should get better as the season goes on.
Besides Sam Darnold looking great, the defense and special teams kept giving the Jets great field position. To me this was the key to the game. Forcing the Lions quarterbacks to throw 5 interceptions (Stafford/4, Cassel/1) showed how aggressive the defense was throughout the game. Darron Lee finally had a game to remember. With two interceptions, one returned for a TD, the third year linebacker played like the player we heard about when he was at Ohio State. Time had been running out for Lee and he came up big time. Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne and Jamal Adams also had interceptions. Besides Lee, the other Jet linebackers played excellent and so did the secondary. A couple of unsung heroes were linebacker Frankie Luvu and defensive lineman Henry Anderson who seemed to be in the backfield most of the time he was in the game. An observation was that the defense as a whole looked incredibly quick compared to the last couple of years.
Jet Special Teams
In my last Green Rewind article I mentioned punter Lac Edwards and how he improved. Not only is he kicking longer than last year but his placement of his punts in the Lion game were excellent. Of his three punts the Lions had to start one drive at their own 10-yard line and one drive at their own 6-yard line. Field position can make or break seasons. Edwards is a good one.
On the punt returns, what can you say about Andre Roberts? This veteran entering his ninth year in the NFL was just outstanding. He averaged 45 yards per return on three punts including one that went for a 78-yard touchdown. Roberts is listed as a wide receiver but make no mistake, he made the roster as a return man. The Jets are the fifth NFL team he is on and he goes back with Todd Bowles when he coached the Arizona Cardinals defense.
Rich Cimini, ESPN
(Sam) Darnold had just won his first professional start, overcoming a pick-six on his first pass attempt to beat the Detroit Lions, 48-17. No one wants to start his career with a blooper moment, but it showed he can take a punch. That will serve him well as he navigates an early schedule that will test his mettle. Working on a short week, Darnold will face the Miami Dolphins in the Jets' home opener. Then it'll be an even shorter week -- a dreaded Thursday night road game against the Cleveland Browns, who may start blitzing the rookie before the national anthem is finished. From there, it's a road trip to the Jacksonville Jaguars, best defensive team in the NFL. The point is, not every week will be fun for Darnold. Not every opponent will be as clueless as the Lions, who looked utterly unprepared under first-year coach Matt Patricia. Every young quarterback falls into a funk at some point. The mentally fragile get swallowed up by the adversity and the pressure. The tough-minded players fight their way out of it. On Monday night, Darnold showed fight. After the interception, he went 16-for-20, 198 yards and two touchdowns, rallying the Jets to one of their most impressive season-opening wins. Instead of imploding on prime-time TV, he laughed off his rookie blunder.
Manish Mehta, NY Daily News
Just outside the winning locker room Monday night, Chris Darnold had tears in her eyes, Michael Darnold had a smile as wide as the ocean… and their son had the same steady demeanor that he has had for as long as they can remember. Sam Darnold had just won his first NFL game in the most unusual way, turning a glaring mistake into a footnote, but it was nearly impossible to tell any of that by the look on his face. The Jets rookie quarterback flashed an easy smile while hugging his folks before disappearing into the night. Darnold is the sketch of cool, but he’s not too cool for school. He’s calm, but he’s not detached. He’s reserved, but he’s not aloof.
“He’s the same guy every day,” Todd Bowles said the day after the Jets’ epic season-opening 48-17 rout over the Lions. “I think that’s important at the quarterback position. You need to be the same guy every day whether it’s good or bad. Everybody needs to see that…. You know what you’re getting out of that guy. You trust that type of person when you’re the same guy every day. That’s really been the most impressive thing.” Time will tell, but the Jets’ decision to trade up from No. 6 to No. 3 in this year’s draft might ultimately go down as the single greatest decision in franchise history………
…….“It’s great to see,” Bowles said about his young signal caller’s poise. “It’s rare more nowadays…. It’s exciting to see because he’s got an old soul, but he’s young in age. He understands the game very well. He works at it the right way…. It’s a bit more comforting knowing that he’s going to go study.”
Think about it this way: How would you have responded if you made a huge blunder in the first few seconds on your first day of work? Would you have sought shelter? Or would you have been emboldened by the moment? Darnold’s pick-six on his first career snap actually calmed him down.
“Oh my God…” cornerback Mo Claiborne said. “I’ve been seeing this from this guy since he arrived here.
“He’s just fearless. It seems like nothing really gets to him. He keeps the same attitude, the same look on his face.”
Darnold couldn’t be a more respectful person, but, man, he’s an assassin on the field. Maybe the pick-six was meant to be, because if you didn’t believe in Darnold’s mental toughness before Monday night, you certainly do now.
“I practice with him every day. He has that ‘It’ factor,” cornerback Trumaine Johnson said. “He’s a gamer. Coming from a pick-six first ball, you don’t see rookie quarterbacks do what he did… I’m proud of him.”
Brian Costello, NY Post
They have been teased by young quarterbacks who look like they could be the one. They have been fooled by one-game wonders who made them dream of finding that elusive franchise quarterback. They have been burned by the career flameouts of Browning Nagle, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. The scars are still there. You can feel that this week, as the biggest question going around Jets fans’ heads is: To Believe or Not To Believe? That is the question with Sam Darnold, the Jets’ rookie quarterback who showed resiliency Monday night when he bounced back from throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown on the first play of his career. He put that play behind him and threw two touchdowns and played a big role in the Jets’ 48-17 win over the Lions. It is OK, Jets fans. You can buy in. This kid is for real. Now that is not to say, off of one game, we should compare him to Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. There will be plenty of hiccups to come this season. As for the future, so much else has to go right for Darnold to realize his potential. But the foundation is there. Darnold is different. That is not just based off Monday’s game, but off what he has shown since the draft in April. He is more mature than Sanchez, Smith or Nagle were. He is a more instinctive player than any of them. His poise is something that is rarely found in someone who only reached the legal drinking age three months ago…..
…..One game is not enough to put Darnold in Canton. There are so many things that could go wrong. The Jets must still build around Darnold. The Jets’ failure to do that around Sanchez doomed him. Darnold must stay healthy, of course. Chad Pennington looked like he was the answer before the injuries piled up. But Darnold has traits that can’t be coached. He has talent that should make Jets fans excited about the future. If he stays healthy and the Jets do this right, they have their guy.