Report: Darnold's first play in Jets uniform spells trouble for organization


Entering the 2018 NFL draft, USC’s Sam Darnold was seen as perhaps the most pro-ready quarterback of his class.

He has the size, intelligence and arm talent that personnel evaluators salivate over, and his ability to make plays in the face of pressure sets him apart from other quarterbacks.

But one thing Darnold lacked was experience under center. USC used the shotgun formation for most of Darnold’s time at the school, but the standard NFL offense has the quarterback taking a good portion of his snaps from under center.

When Darnold was taken by the Jets with the third overall pick, he knew that he would have to adjust.

Last year, Jets’ quarterbacks were under center for 45 percent of their total snaps, which is just above the NFL average of 42 percent.

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Well, Jets’ minicamp opened on Friday, and almost as expected, Darnold struggled a bit when receiving snaps. Per, the quarterback fumbled the very first snap of his pro career thanks to a botched exchange with the center.

In all, Darnold fumbled three of the 20 snaps he took with the offense. He was visibly frustrated following the third mishap, as he brought his hands to his helmet in disgust afterward.

And things apparently didn’t improve a whole lot on Saturday.

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Transitioning from a spread offense to a pro-style offense is something that most college quarterbacks have to do these days once they reach the NFL.

Darnold isn’t alone in that regard, as three of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round had very little experience under center last season.

But there were also plenty of encouraging signs from the 20-year-old.’s Andy Vasquez said he looked good when making throws on the run and even threaded a 25-yard pass between two defenders.

He also didn’t have any interceptions during Friday’s team drills. This is notable due to the fact that he threw 21 interceptions over his last two seasons at USC, which was more picks than Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson tossed over that span.

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Darnold’s overall performance seems to have been about what many expected, but coach Todd Bowles, who has a notorious poker face, broke character with an over-the-top analysis of his quarterback’s first day.

“He was great!” Bowles said as he slammed his fist against the poduim. “I want him to play right now!”

Bowles then composed himself and went back into typical coach-speak when evaluating Darnold’s performance.

“He was good, you know,” he deadpanned. “Obviously, we threw the ball around a little bit and he’ll be getting better.”

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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