MIAMI GARDENS, Fla – The President of the Sam Darnold Fan Club (whoever that is) would surely admit that Sunday’s 13-6 loss was not the quarterback’s finest hour, but there’s no reason to jump ship.
Yes, Darnold’s four-interception performance in the Jets’ third consecutive loss was tough to witness. It was his worst performance in a young career destined for much brighter moments.
“He’ll be just fine,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum said. “He’ll come back next week and hopefully throw for 300. He’ll be alright.”
Darnold went 21 for 39 for 229 yards, a season-high four picks, a season-low 31.8 passer rating and a season-high in poor decisions that had the signal caller upset at himself. Darnold threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, including a pick-six that gave the Dolphins a two-score lead they wouldn’t relinquish. His underthrown pass (after a poor shotgun snap) intended for Eric Tomlinson was picked off by linebacker Jerome Baker, who took it 25 yards to the house to make it 13-3 less than three minutes into the final quarter. It turned out to be the only touchdown from either team.
“I thought I would be able to fit it over him and didn’t throw it with confidence,” Darnold said. “That was it. I alligator-armed it (and) just threw a little bit short and paid (for it).”
Darnold has endured a three-week statistical nightmare after completing a season-high 80 percent of his passes in a Week 6 win over the Colts. The rookie has two touchdowns and seven interceptions with passer ratings of 34.4, 75.8 and 31.8 during the Jets’ three-game losing streak that dropped them to 3-6.
“I don’t have a general concern,” said Bowles, who said that he isn’t contemplating a move back to veteran Josh McCown right now. “I have a general concern about us scoring points and moving the ball consistently… I don’t think he regressed. He’s going to have some bad throws and just can’t turn it over.”
Darnold has a league-high 14 interceptions through nine weeks, but let’s not panic. He’s going through growing pains that everyone, including the great quarterbacks in the history of the game, have experienced. It will benefit the franchise in the long term.
“Sam is young,” cornerback Mo Claiborne said. “Sam has a lot to learn. He’s learned a lot. He’s been through a lot… The best experience for a football player is to play games and get those reps. He’s learning as he goes. We’re still behind him 100 percent. We have his back no matter what.
“Sometimes you go through these types of things,” Claiborne continued. “It’s going to be how he responds to it the following weeks… I expect him to come to work on Monday with this put behind him and ready to move forward…. He knows we have full confidence in him no matter what.”
Make no mistake: Good, bad or ugly, this is now Darnold’s team.
“The effort is there,” wide receiver Robby Anderson said of his quarterback. “I think he’s trying to give his all.”
Nobody is more ticked off than Darnold, who obviously wants to shorten his learning curve. But there’s a process that can’t be fast-tracked no matter how talented you are at this position.
“I’m going to continue to learn,” Darnold said. “There’s always lessons to be learned. I’m going to watch the film, probably on the flight back, and we’ll move on from there.”