Last month, former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez explained why he though Sam Darnold should hightail it out of New York and get to another team.
Now that Darnold is a member of the Carolina Panthers, working with offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Sanchez believes the beleaguered signal-caller can take the next step in his young career.
“Brady’s going to help with his process,” Sanchez told Joseph Person of The Athletic. “The way you go through these progressions, and the way your footwork is tied into these progressions. … Sam has enough of that playmaking ability with his legs to extend plays — similar to [Joe] Burrow, because he is a good athlete — that he’s going to be able to make these throws and then keep guys on their toes. Scramble for a couple third downs a game and just break the defense’s back.”
You've heard it before and odds are, you'll hear it again. One reason why Darnold struggled in a Jets uniform was the lack of playmakers and weapons around him. In Carolina, Darnold will share the backfield with running back Christian McCaffrey, throwing passes to wide receivers D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and old friend Robby Anderson.
"My rookie year, third game into the season, we sign Braylon Edwards. Then the next year we sign Santonio Holmes. Those are household names. Those are Pro Bowl players,” Sanchez added. “Sam hasn’t played with anybody like that.”
As Person notes, Sanchez and Darnold are neighbors in Southern California. With that close bond, sharing similar career paths from USC to the Jets in the first few picks of the first round, Sanchez is invested in Darnold's success. That doesn't mean making excuses for the 23-year-old, but rather highlighting what Darnold went through due to the hand he was dealt in green and white while emphasizing the fact that he has a good chance to play better in a Panthers uniform.
"To make any judgment on him based on his circumstances now and just say either thumbs up, thumbs down, good or bad, is just premature," Sanchez said. "He hasn’t had a legitimate chance to make anything happen with real weapons. It makes it very difficult when you’re playing with guys like that. There’s a lot on the quarterback, and he’s still learning a lot.”
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