Here's what Sam Darnold did in his first start that hadn't happened since Tom Brady did it in 2001
Darnold's Jets won big in his first start -- enough to put him in elite company
It took Sam Darnold one NFL snap -- -- to enter an exclusive club of quarterbacks (Brett Favre and Jameis Winston) who threw pick-sixes on their first NFL passes. It took Sam Darnold one game -- -- to join an exclusive club with a certain future Hall of Fame quarterback who might end up going down as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
In Brady's first start, the Patriots beat the Colts 44-13, but that didn't have that much to do with Brady, who went only 13 of 23 for 168 yards, no touchdowns, no picks, and a 79.6 passer rating. That win was more about the Patriots' defense, which forced four turnovers, including three interceptions of Manning.
Similarly, the Jets did not win by 24 points on Monday night because Darnold carved up the Lions. Darnold certainly played well after his early miscue by completing 16 of 21 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns, that lone pick, and a 116.8 passer rating, but the win was more about the Jets dominating the Lions in every single facet of the game. They picked off Matthew Stafford four times. Their defense and special teams each scored a touchdown. Isaiah Crowell cleared the 100-yard mark despite getting only 10 carries. Darnold wasn't the reason for the blowout. He played well enough to win, but not well enough to warrant a blowout of that magnitude.
Clearly, this doesn't mean Darnold is the next Brady. It's been one game. That might seem obvious, but I just wanted to explicitly say it so nobody accuses me using something like #QBWinz to justify a Darnold-Brady comparison this early in his career.
But again, let's give Darnold the credit he deserves. He could've collapsed after that pick-six, which really was awful.
But he didn't. Jets and gave them the lead.""Darnold proceeded to go 6-of-8 on his next three series, 23 total plays that generated 10 total points for the
I criticized his first touchdown for being slightly underthrown, which gave the defensive back a shot at an interception, but that's probably being a bit too nitpicky.
He's clearly got the tools to succeed.
Most importantly, as the final scoreline indicated, the Jets might actually have a solid team already in place around Darnold. The offensive line kept him well protected, the running backs created big plays, the receiving crew might be among the league's most underrated units, and the defense was nearly flawless. The team around Darnold is just as important as Darnold himself. Young quarterbacks can't do everything by themselves.
On Monday night, Darnold got the help he needed to turn a nightmare start into a perfect debut.
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