We’re the first to acknowledge that two games are an extremely small sample size. However, everything the ex-New York Jets quarterback has accomplished in those eight quarters is a ringing indictment on Adam Gase, his former head coach and a supposed brilliant offensive mind.
Sam Darnold looks like a completely different quarterback with the Carolina Panthers
Again, 120 minutes of in-game action isn’t always a clear sign of things to come. The Houston Texans opened the 2013 season with two straight wins before losing the final 14 games and earning the No. 1 overall pick.
For once, though, we’re going to view things optimistically. Darnold completed 68.5% of his passes in the Panthers’ first two games, both victories, for 584 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. The 24-year-old also added a rushing touchdown in a Week 1 win over Zach Wilson and the Jets.
Wilson, the second overall pick in this year’s NFL draft and Darnold’s successor, threw five interceptions in his first two games. Let that serve as yet another reminder that Jets fans cannot be happy.
Darnold’s success is further proof of how badly the Jets misfired with Adam Gase
You can pin Darnold’s early success on anything from offensive coordinator Joe Brady to him facing the Jets and New Orleans Saints, two teams that had injury problems on defense at the time.
Here’s the reality, though. Whatever the reason for Darnold’s strong play of late, it’s yet another reason why Gase should never be an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator again.
For years, football fans heard about the brilliance of Gase’s offensive mind and how well Peyton Manning fared when the two worked together on the Denver Broncos. Need we remind you that Manning is among the greatest quarterbacks of all time? An 8-year-old could have called plays while watching a Fortnite stream, and Manning still would have thrown for two touchdowns and helped his team win.
After firing Todd Bowles following the 2018 season, the Jets decided that Gase — who didn’t exactly work wonders with Ryan Tannehill on the Miami Dolphins — was the perfect coach to mentor Darnold. Things went so well that the Jets fired Gase after two seasons and traded their quarterback, who fans widely considered damaged goods, to the Panthers.
Tannehill became a borderline star after the Tennessee Titans acquired him in the spring of 2019. Darnold is showing why the Jets traded up to select him third overall over three years ago. History is repeating itself and showing why Gase’s days of having any significant input in player development should be over.
The Panthers should be ecstatic if this version of Darnold is here to stay
No one is asking Darnold to become the next Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Of course, we don’t think the Panthers would complain if that winds up being what happens in the coming years.
Right now, Darnold is playing clean football and avoiding risky throws. He’s shown signs of turning into a competent game manager capable of taking a deep shot when need be, much like what Baker Mayfield has done on the Cleveland Browns over the last year. Don’t you think there’s a correlation between Mayfield’s change of play style and the Browns’ recent success?
That time has also arrived for Darnold, who went two picks after Mayfield in the 2018 draft, to do the same. The fourth-year quarterback has dynamic running back Christian McCaffrey and explosive receiver Robby Anderson, his former Jets teammate, at his disposal. That’s a trio capable of doing severe damage in the NFC South, especially if the Saints’ Week 2 struggles are a sign of things to come.
In his three seasons with the Jets, Darnold only won more than four games as a starter once. Something tells us he’ll surpass that number in a significant way this fall.