The New York Jets have been the laughing stock of football over the last couple of years. However, it's really hard to blame former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold for all the struggles that the franchise has had.
Was Darnold playing at a particularly high level during his time as a Jet? No, but in his defense, he didn't have the surrounding pieces to be successful. He was set up for failure in New York. I mean let's be honest, having Adam Gase as his head coach surely didn't do him any favors and if you look at the weapons he had or lack thereof, it's not hard to see why things didn't work out.
The moment Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers he became a better quarterback. How do I know that? Matt Rhule and Joe Brady are elite developers of talent and most importantly, they believe in him. The Jets never really had any confidence that he was the guy and players can sense that. To go to an organization that not only believes in you but is also surrounding you with an abundance of talent and depth is a huge confidence boost for a quarterback.
During Darnold's introductory press conference a few weeks back, you could sense that he was reenergized and knew he was walking into a much better situation than the one he left behind in the Big Apple.
"The attention to detail with the culture here is one of a kind. Starting with Mr. Tepper and then Mr. Fitterer and coach Rhule to be able to come in here and be on the same wavelength of what the culture needs to be. Just walking around the building, I mean, you can tell, the agenda is set. It's all about ball.
"I'm very excited for this opportunity and to come in with a fresh start. In terms of the weapons, I'm really excited to play with these guys here, and obviously, I have some experience playing with Robby Anderson so I'm super excited to continue that relationship and obviously there's a lot of other guys as well. Excited to play with guys like Christian [McCaffrey], DJ [Moore], David Moore, Dan Arnold, just to name a few."
At the moment of that press conference, Darnold probably wasn't expecting more help to be on the way. I mean, he was so used to New York constantly neglecting the idea of surrounding him with talent and providing him with reliable guys up front to protect him, so it's probably a little new for him to see an organization putting in the maximum effort to do everything they can to help him succeed.
Last week in the 2021 NFL Draft the Panthers selected South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn with the 8th overall pick but then proceeded to draft four consecutive offensive players.
WR Terrace Marshall Jr. - LSU
OT Brady Christensen - BYU
TE Tommy Tremble - Notre Dame
RB Chuba Hubbard - Oklahoma State
Late on day three of the draft, Carolina added one more weapon to Darnold's arsenal with South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith. At this point, there are not going to be many excuses for Darnold if he were to severely struggle in 2021. Now, of course, learning a new offensive system with a new coaching staff and new teammates will take some time but it would be surprising to see Darnold not take his game to the next level. As previously mentioned, he didn't have weapons in New York let alone depth. Following the draft, Carolina now has both.
Running backs: Christian McCaffrey, Chuba Hubbard, Rodney Smith, Trenton Cannon, Reggie Bonnafon
Wide receivers: DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., Brandon Zylstra, Keith Kirkwood, Shi Smith
Tight ends: Dan Arnold, Ian Thomas, Tommy Tremble
Projected starting offensive line: Cameron Erving, Pat Elflein, Matt Paradis, John Miller, Taylor Moton
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