Only Two NFL Quarterbacks Have Been Better Than Sam Darnold This Month
A disappointing and dispiriting loss on Sunday brought the New York Jets three-game winning streak to an end. But it didn’t necessarily end a good stretch of games for quarterback Sam Darnold.
And that right there is perhaps more important than any wins or losses for the remainder of this Jets season. Darnold’s development is paramount for the Jets now that the season is essentially over.
At 4-8 with the loss, the Jets are now squarely looking ahead to the upcoming offseason. They can and will spend along the offensive line to improve the protection for Darnold and likely will need to bring in one playmaker at wide receiver, possibly through the NFL Draft.
All that means help for Darnold down the road. But in the present and with what he can control in the here and now, the second-year quarterback has impressed. And that goes for what was a down game on Sunday in a loss to the 1-11 Cincinnati Bengals.
Darnold wasn’t tremendous and was rather average in the loss at the Bengals. But he limited mistakes in going 28-fo-48 for 239 yards. He had no touchdowns and no interceptions.
He was however sacked four times, a combination of a good Bengals defensive front and some poor protection from his offensive line.
Pro Football Focus noted that since the Jets winning streak started in Week 10, Darnold is the third-highest ranked quarterback in the league. His grade from the analytics website is 82.4.
It shows significant improvement for Darnold, who has a 64.9 overall ranking from PFF on the year.
All of which is an ever so slight improvement on his rookie year, when PFF graded him out at 64.7.
Darnold’s second season in the NFL, of course, had a rocky start. In Week 2 he was diagnosed with mono, which caused him to miss the net month of the season. He returned with a solid performance in a home win over the Dallas Cowboys, but then struggled over the next couple of games to find his footing.
But in recent weeks, Darnold has performed well. Improved protection from the offensive line helped during their recent (and now deceased) three-game winning streak.
In these last four games, Darnold has seven touchdowns and just a single interception.
The two quarterbacks ahead of him in PFF’s grades are no surprise: Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson (91.9) and New Orleans Saints Drew Brees (85.5). Minnesota Vikings Kirk Cousins (82.1) and the Tennessee Titans Ryan Tannehill (81.4) round out PFF’s top five quarterbacks since Week 10.