Darnold or Jones: Which Quarterback Has Lived Up to the Hype So Far?

Rob Lep

In the battle for New York football supremacy this weekend, the New York Giants (2-7) face off with their MetLife Stadium neighbor Sunday, the New York Jets (1-8).

This rivalry has a different feel than it does in years past as both teams have a combined three wins between them going into their Week 10 matchup.

They also both have a young quarterback who they believe will be the face of the franchise for years to come.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is in his second year with the team. Darnold’s promising rookie season saw him finished as Pro Football Focus’ top-graded quarterback over the last four games of the 2018 season. He also finished second in almost every other statistical category among rookie quarterbacks last season who had at least 200 dropbacks, only to be topped by Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.

This year, Darnold has had his struggles. He missed three games after being diagnosed with mono. But since returning, Darnold has thrown just six touchdowns to nine interceptions, and has only thrown for 300 yards or more once in that four-game stretch, that coming in Week 6 against Dallas in his first game back and from his illness, and the team’s only win thus far this season.

Meanwhile, Daniel Jones, the surprise pick at quarterback for the Giants selected in the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, has had a rollercoaster ride his first season in the NFL.

Jones began his career 2-0, including a spectacular debut against the Bucs in which he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. But after leading the Giants to a win over Washington in Week 4, Jones and the Giants have now lost five straight games.

Which team got the better deal? Here is a breakdown of some of the position's critical traits.

Decision Making

Both have had struggles with decision making and turnovers, but I have to roll with Jones.

Darnold has 1,077 passing yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 70.5 quarterback rating and 63.2 completion percentage. Jones has 1,676 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions, a 62.6 completion percentage, and an 82.6 quarterback rating.

Jones leads Darnold in basically every statistical category despite Darnold having the second year of experience versus NFL competition, the better supporting cast, and had the full support of his organization and fans. Darnold has played more games (18) compared to Jones (7).

Darnold, who last year threw only 15 interceptions, has thrown eight interceptions and three touchdowns his last three games. Jones has thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions in that same three-game span. The Giants gunslinger also has seven fumbles compared to Darnold’s two in those same games. Both guys have their flaws, but Jones, who also had the pressure of replacing the legendary Eli Manning, has handled the situation with aplomb.

Pocket Presence

Again, Jones gets the nod because he looks more comfortable in the pocket than Darnold does. With the way the Giants offensive line has played—they’ve allowed a league-high 72 quarterback hits—that’s saying something.

This pro for Jones can also be seen as a con because his confidence staying in the pocket leads to fumbles, interceptions and could lead to potentially worse in the future. He’s taken some huge hits and has coughed the ball up way too many times leading to turnovers and points for his opponents.

Darnold, at times, looks incredibly awkward and uncomfortable in the pocket with inconsistent footwork and mechanics. Indeed, his subpar offensive line, which has allowed the third-most quarterback hits (65) this season—comes into play here, but with the inconsistent Giants line, Jones’ willingness to stay in there and let the play develop is impressive.

Jones’ confidence is promising, but he needs to realize it’s OK to throw the ball away once in a while. You don’t need a 50-yard bomb every single play.

Maturity

Both of these quarterbacks are what you want and what you expect from a face of a franchise, especially in the world of social media, where any quote can lead to an unwanted distraction. Jones and Darnold are both brilliant in this category.

The way Jones has handled the scrutiny since the Giants drafted him has been fantastic to watch. He proved the doubters wrong day by day and has said nothing to draw national attention of the wrong kind as some of his contemporaries have.

The same is true with Darnold, who understands what comes with being the quarterback in New York. Darnold has been mocked after his “seeing ghosts” comments were aired during a Monday Night Football broadcast, and his team is getting ripped apart by the media, but Darnold has taken the high road.

He does a weekly radio spot with The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio 98.7 FM in New York and answers the tough questions with class and professionalism. With how difficult this season has been, he needs to be commended for that.

Accuracy

This is a close call, but I’ll take Darnold here. We saw what Darnold is capable of, especially last year in the second half. He is an accurate passer overall.

Darnold has more interceptions than Jones, but he also has a slightly higher completion percentage (63.2 versus 62.6). Despite his struggles this year, Darnold’s completion percentage is an improvement over the 57.7 completion percentage he recorded as a rookie.

Mobility

The clear advantage here goes to “Danny Dimes”—or is that “Danny Dash”? His game-winning touchdown rush versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his NFL debut is a clear example of the dual-threat Jones brings to the Giants’ offense.

If you’re into statistics, Jones has 188 rushing yards and two touchdowns in seven career games. Darnold has 138 and one touchdown in 18 games.

Arm Strength

Jones is still developing, but another thing he’s shown himself capable of is he can deliver such a power football. The 6-foot-5, 221-pound Jones not only throws with power but also with accuracy.

He’s had several impressive throws, but two that probably most memorable so far include a 26-yard dime placed in the right corner of the end zone for Sterling Shepard in Week 3 against the Bucs, and the 64-yard strike to Golden Tate in Week 6 against the Patriots.

Overall

Give me Daniel Jones, who so has been everything you want in a quarterback, on and off the field, and he’s done a lot of stuff on the field despite not having his full supporting cast. With some further personnel tweaks, including on the offensive line and an improved defense, the sky is the limit for Jones and the Giants.

It’s a New York sports radio segment heaven. Ratings galore! Which quarterback would you rather roll with for the next decade? Darnold or Jones? The phone lines, er, comments section are open for your thoughts. 

Comments (2)
No. 1-1
Cowboyup
Cowboyup

Readers

Please. If you want to make the case that either of these guys has lived up to anything, you are wasting your breath. The "Hype" is that either or both can be of sufficient excellence to lead a team to a super bowl victory. Whether Sam looks better winning one game or Jones looks better winning one game ( the Giants didn't really win the Tampa game ) , is idiotic. Save your breakdown for 5 years hence. Thx.


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