History shows that Sam Darnold can prosper away from the New York Jets
The New York Jets have a win, their first of the season, and it came after a backs-to-the-wall second half performance as far away from home as possible under a bright California sun.
The Jets upset the LA Rams 23-20, a result that now puts them level with Jacksonville on a solitary win.
Quarterback Sam Darnold’s homecoming to the state where he grew up and played his college football gave him his first win of the 2020 season.
But the brightness stops there for Darnold as the quarterback has had to spend the past month watching his current team openly flirt with potential replacement Trevor Lawrence and Darnold knows his time in New York is all but up.
He came into the league as the third pick in the 2018 draft and was thrust into the starting line-up, where he made headlines after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown on his very first pass.
Things didn’t improve for the passer and in his first season he managed to win just four of the 13 games he started, with a foot injury keeping him out of three games.
In his second season, considered a far more important campaign as it shows the progress a player has made, he showed improvement after once again missing three games. The quarterback managed seven wins against six losses, despite a new head coach being installed.
In his 36 starts in the NFL only 14 times has his passer rating – the measurement that collates stats into one score - shown him to have an above-average grade.
But it’s not over yet for the one-time youngest starter since the AFL-NFL merger in 1966. If, as expected, the Jets release him there will be a plethora of teams interested in the former college star to see if they can change his trajectory.
Darnold wouldn’t be the first to have such a turnaround in a fresh organisation. Alex Smith, a former number one pick, left San Francisco and found a career in Kansas before moving to Washington. More recently, Ryan Tannehill left Miami after six seasons and found Tennessee to suit him better, with two seasons straight playoff appearances.
So to Sam Darnold I say, it isn't over yet; Sunday’s win now means the Jaguars are set to take the first pick, and maybe those Jets fans will be begging for your return after all.
With the Rams loss, and the Seahawks’ tough win over Washington, Seattle have taken the lead in the NFC West and have secured playoff football regardless of the events of the next few weeks.
The Arizona Cardinals picked up a much needed 33-26 win over Philadelphia to keep their playoff hopes alive and set up a gruelling two weeks for the Rams.
On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills secured their first division title in 25 years with a comfortable win over Denver, while before that San Diego managed to beat Las Vegas and all but prevented them from reaching the postseason in their first campaign in Sin City.
In a potential Super Bowl matchup, Kansas City overcame a shaky performance from Drew Brees on his return from injury as they managed to eke out a 32-29 win in New Orleans.
Miami ended the Patriots’ 12-year postseason streak as they put up 22 second-half points to beat the floundering New England team 22-12.
In the battle for the AFC South, the Tennessee Titans beat the Detroit Lions 46-25 in a game where Detroit once again ran out of gas late, while the Indianapolis Colts kept the pressure on with a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans, leaving the Titans with the division lead based on a head to head.
In the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys overcame the 49ers, while Washington and New York both lost to Seattle and Cleveland respectively. The win puts Dallas in a tie for second place and in control of their destiny as they play both the Eagles and Giants in the next two weeks.
There were also wins for Chicago, 33-27 over the Vikings, and Tampa Bay, 31-27 over Atlanta, that keep their playoff hopes alive, although the route looks much tougher for the Bears.
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