Sam Darnold had a rough 2019. The second-year pro went from mono to strep. I mean, Darnold couldn’t catch a break! When he was on the field, we saw a good step forward in Darnold’s development, playing in 13 games both seasons but going from a 4-9 record in 2018 to a 7-6 record in 2019. Statistically speaking, we saw growth as well. In 2018, we saw him complete 57% of his passes for 2,865 yards and a 17/15 TD/INT ratio. In 2019, he jumped up to 61% completion percentage on his way to 3,024 yards and a 19/13 TD/INT ratio (thanks to Pro-Football-Reference for statistics).
Sam Darnold and Coaching
When Adam Gase arrived as the coach this past season, that didn’t give many of us hope for Darnold’s future, as Gase’s track record has been very up and down throughout his coaching career. Now, we saw solid development in the first year of their relationship, and really only time will tell if Darnold can grow with Gase, and conversely, if Gase and coach up a talented young quarterback. Gase was a coordinator when Peyton Manning came to Denver and took them to a championship, so how much of it was Gase and how much was it a hall-of-fame quarterback making those calls. After Gase left Denver, he went to coordinate the Chicago Bears offense for one lackluster season and then was elevated to head coach of the Miami Dolphins. He inherited Ryan Tannehill and after a wildcard birth in year one, things were looking up; but that’s about where it ended as well.
Sam Darnold 2020 Outlook
The Jets had a huge need across the offensive line, as they gave Darnold less than 3 seconds to throw the ball on average in 2019 based on nextgen stats. The Jets added Greg Van Roten, Conner McGovern, and George Fant in free agency to help shore up some of that need, and that should go far in fixing up the problems and allowing Darnold time to throw. When you read the rumors about the Jets draft ideas, your guess is as good as ours. We could see them take a stud lineman in round one, or try to build on that developing defense, and either way would be smart. As long as Darnold can stay healthy, we should see better results than year two of Tannehill/Gase, and I’d expect Darnold to be around the 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns mark in 2020.