Looks like Sam Darnold wasn't the problem after all.
The quarterback isn't just having a resurgence with the Panthers, he's playing the best football of his career since the Jets traded him to Carolina.
Through three games—after the Panthers thrashed the Texans on Thursday Night Football—Darnold has thrown for 888 passing yards. In three seasons with the Jets, Darnold never threw for that many yards through the air in a three-game span.
Further, Darnold eclipsed the 300-yard mark on Thursday night in Houston, the second time he's done so this season. Darnold had only four 300-yard performances while wearing green and white. He played in 38 games during his tenure with the Jets.
This goes beyond Darnold's numbers with Gang Green, though. Check out this nugget from ESPN Stats & Info:
Sure, Darnold has played a couple lowly opponents so far with Carolina. Ironically, one of those teams was the Jets, an organization that's going to be susceptible to huge days for opposing quarterbacks all season long. But this historic start is making it increasingly difficult to ignore the obvious.
Darnold has looked like a completely different quarterback with his new team. He's been able to utilize his supporting cast, taking advantage of more protection to flash his undeniable talent and lead his team to victory after victory.
It makes you wonder how Darnold would have performed in New York had the Jets elected to stick with the former No. 3 overall pick rather than trade him away, restartingv the clock on Zach Wilson.
Depending on your football allegiances, maybe you're not ready to buy in on Darnold's early success. No matter who you root for, though, this surge through Week 3 also makes you wonder how much of an impact former Jets head coach Adam Gase had on Darnold during his time in New York.
Was it Gase's tutelage and scheme that held Darnold back? New York was 9-32 while Gase in charge during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He's a head coach that was once referred to as a quarterback guru. Look at how Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has played since he and Gase parted ways after working together in Miami.
Circumstances with Darnold's teammates (injuries, underperforming) contributed to this situation as well, but a team's head coach is an integral part of the equation.
The talent has always been there for Darnold. Perhaps it is too early to jump to any conclusions, but his production can't be viewed as a coincidence. Only time will tell if Darnold can sustain this early (and historic) success.
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