The doom and gloom around quarterback Sam Darnold was replaced with an exhale and even a bit of optimism for the New York Jets. Sunday’s training camp session at MetLife Stadium, dubbed a scrimmage but really more of a practice, saw Darnold improve in sustaining drives.
Darnold was noticeably more upbeat after the scrimmage that wasn’t a scrimmage, one where the offense was a bit more effective than from their scrimmage just days before. He earned some positive reviews from head coach Adam Gase, not one to hand out praise too readily.
“Today, I really think he’s getting good, especially just with if something is different and he has got to either get out of a play I called or a run check, or all those little tiny things that last we might have not asked him to do – and now it just seems so much smoother for him. It doesn’t look like a stressful thing mentally for him. He’s just reacting to things,” Gase said on Sunday in his virtual press conference following practice.
“He has a plan of what to go to and it’s coming out instead of him really standing there and thinking what he’s supposed to do. It’s just becoming really second nature to him. I really love it when things go bad, he can make plays. There was a couple of times when we turned a couple times loose, he scrambles out of the pocket, makes a play, keeps the drive alive. Those are things that he’s just going to get better at; when he acts like that, it give us a shot because he’s fixing a lot of things that aren’t right.”
The vibe of playing at MetLife Stadium, made to replicate the feel of a gameday experience, helped a bit with the intensity of the offense. Gase teased that the pumped in crowd noise was an asset because he couldn’t hear the always vocal defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the other sideline.
For Darnold and the offense, the vibe of a regular season game while in preseason during a training camp with no games was helpful.
“They were pumping in crowd noise and music the whole time. It was cool,” Darnold said.
“It was definitely more energy than when we didn’t have any noise at practice and it was just a scrimmage. So that was nice to have some type of noise and music going there. It was good. Obviously you miss the fans – the fan interaction. That’s what most of us all love about this game is to be able to entertain people. Even after games, spending time with the fans, and before games.
“That’s the part we’re all going to miss but we’re going to have adapt. But it was good with the fan noise and the music today. It was good.”
Just six wide receivers were healthy enough to participate in the MetLife practice. Breshad Perriman (knee), Denzel Mims (hamstring) and Vyncint Smith (core) were among three of the wide receivers who sat out the scrimmange.
For a team looking to come together without the benefit of preseason games, it is a concern to not have the full complement of talent on hand. Darnold, however, said he isn’t concerned.
“It’s not concern. We understand how limited the reps were, I mean coming in, with no OTAs,” Darnold said. “We’ve been trying to get as many reps as possible and looking at as much film and communicating with each other as much as possible.”