Why these Sam Darnold throws brought Jets a moment of joy

Jets coaches had a moment of joy when watching the film of the win over the Redskins last week. After quarterback Sam Darnold threw an ill-advised screen pass in the second quarter that was intercepted, he wound up on the sideline and was walking his way toward the bench. Then, he gave a motion with his hands that he should have “dirted” the ball, meaning throw it at the receiver’s feet so it couldn’t be intercepted.

Darnold did not need to be told what he did wrong. He realized it immediately and the coaches saw another sign that the second-year quarterback is growing.

The most impressive part of Darnold’s game Sunday against the Raiders was not the throws he made, but the ones he threw away. Young quarterbacks often struggle with when to give up on a play and live to see another day. It goes against their competitive spirit, and they have insane confidence in their own ability to make throws since they have been able to get away with so much in high school and college.

But in the NFL, one of the keys to good quarterback play is throwing it away and Darnold made a few smart decisions Sunday. In a drive in the second quarter, he threw it away twice. The second time was on third-and-15 at the Raiders 17. If he took a sack there, the Jets could have been out of field-goal range. If he tried to force a throw, it could have been an interception. Instead, Sam Ficken kicked a 35-yard field goal for a 13-3 lead.

“I thought the throwaways were big progress for us as a group,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “He understands that I have another down to go here where I can make something happen on the next down or if it was a third down, understanding there’s points here, I know it’s not ideal, I know we’re not getting seven but at least we’ll be good and we’ll get the ball again and we’ll get seven.”

Now, it should be pointed out that Darnold did make a great throw during this drive, to Robby Anderson for a 31-yard gain, when he probably should have just tucked the ball and ran. But he placed the ball perfectly and Anderson made a great catch.

“The throw to Robby was an unbelievable throw,” Gase said. “I’m pretty sure the first thing out of my mouth to him was, ‘Uh, can you please run that next time and just go get the first down and get down?’ That was probably the safer play.”

Later in the second quarter, the Jets had a screen pass called at the Raiders 30. Darnold saw that Dion Jordan had sniffed it out and this time he did dirt the ball, throwing it to the ground. It led to another Ficken field-goal attempt, which he missed.

Darnold makes throws every game that make you say, “Wow,” but on Sunday it was the throws out of bounds and into the ground that made you believe he is hitting his stride.

For more on the Jets, listen to the latest episode of the “Gang’s All Here” podcast:

[embedded content]

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*