Sam Darnold‘s tenure with the New York Jets was rocky. Poor coaching, horrendous offensive line play, and a lack of surrounding talent plagued his three seasons in New York. Troy Aikman called the Carolina Panthers’ Thursday Night Football matchup against the Houston Texans.
Aikman spoke with Darnold and shed some light on how the signal-caller felt about being dumped by the team that drafted him.
Troy Aikman says Sam Darnold was excited about the new Jets’ regime
When the New York Jets drafted Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the front office was excited about the prospect of Darnold becoming its quarterback of the future.
The USC product struggled to find success in New York. His 13-25 career record with the Jets doesn’t tell the entire story. The environment was not conducive for success, regardless of who was under center.
The Adam Gase era was a complete failure. Poor offensive line play was always an issue, as the unit allowed Darnold to be sacked at least 30 times in all three seasons. The offense also lacked consistent talent at the skill positions. It’s no surprise that he failed.
The Jets fired Gase after the 2020 season. Former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh took over the job and brought in Mike LaFleur to be his offensive coordinator.
FOX NFL’s in-game analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman was a guest on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket. He said that Sam Darnold was looking forward to the new Jets’ regime.
“He knew Saleh was going in as the head coach, and then what they were going to be doing offensively with Mike LaFleur’s offense, that he felt it would be a real good fit for him, said Aikman per Panthers Wire.
Aikman says Darnold wasn’t happy at first, but feels re-energized in Carolina
Troy Aikman had an opportunity to speak with Sam Darnold before the Panthers played on Thursday Night Football. He was surprised to learn that the young quarterback wasn’t happy about being traded.
The 24-year-old believed he had a chance to turn things around with the new coaching staff coming into town. However, the New York Jets had other plans.
The front office confirmed the offseason rumors, selecting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The franchise was preparing to move on from Darnold.
The Jets traded the 2018 first-rounder to Carolina in exchange for multiple draft picks. Although it stung at first, Darnold is coming into his own in his first season with the Panthers.
“When he found out he was going to Carolina, and he got into the program and the offense, he has been re-energized, and he has been playing with a lot more confidence,” said Troy Aikman. “I think Joe Brady, I think he’s really good as an offensive coordinator.”
Sam Darnold should be glad the New York Jets traded him
New York and Carolina seem like night and day through the first three weeks of the 2021 NFL season. The Jets are reeling, dropping their first three games. Meanwhile, the Panthers are off to a hot 3-0 start.
Sam Darnold is lucky to get out while he could. Zach Wilson has not made the Jets better in the interim. Instead, he’s looked bad, especially in the team’s last two games.
Wilson has thrown just two touchdowns through three games. He’s thrown seven interceptions. While he may develop into a franchise quarterback at some point, he has struggled much like Darnold did during his stint.
On the other hand, Darnold is thriving in his new role with the Panthers. He’s thrown three touchdowns and rushed for another three heading into Week 4. Everything about his new team is an upgrade over the Jets.
Carolina has an offensive line that can protect its signal-caller. They also have explosive weapons for Darnold to get the ball to. You don’t see Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall Jr. in the Jets locker room. The Panthers appear to have an elite defense as well.
The New York Jets gave up on Sam Darnold, but he’s proving them wrong with the right pieces around him.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.