Sunday afternoon represented chicken soup, sunshine and better days ahead in Jets quarterback Sam Darnold’s return.
Chicken soup as in Darnold’s presence curing a sickening stupor offense. Sunshine as in bringing life to the Jets team that played like they were in a coma after the Jets quarterback was out for mononucleosis these last few weeks. Better days ahead as in hope that things will get better quickly and beyond for a franchise dealt with Murphy’s Law for far too long.
Darnold exhibited all of these three descriptions by completing 23 of 32 passes with 338 yards and two touchdowns with a 113.8 passer rating in his first game back in the Jets’ 24-22 victory over the overrated Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
It is not preposterous to say the second-year Jets quarterback was why the Jets won. If anything, that would be stating the obvious.
Forget the stats. Ignore the next generation stats. The eyes told the story about the Jets’ next hope.
Darnold made the offense better just by having his unit on the field longer than the Jets defense in a refreshing change of pace after the last few games, which the offense was three-and-out in most of the possessions, and he made throws that no one can teach, especially that 92-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson to give the Jets a 14-3 lead in the first quarter that broke the will and spirit of the Cowboys.
Talk about a contrast from Trevor Siemian to Luke Falk to Darnold.
There’s something to be said about quarterbacks making average coaches into good coaches and good coaches into great. Everyone including myself labeled Gase as a horrible coach since last month, and in this win, Gase looks like the offensive mind he was touted to be when he was hired.
It does not mean the critics were wrong about Gase at all. It’s still the head coach’s job to get something out of quarterbacks that he had to work with after Darnold was diagnosed with mono. The way I look at it, this was more about Darnold than Gase. A competent quarterback can overcome a coach’s shortcomings. It’s hard to believe Gase came up with the home run play that Darnold threw to Anderson for the second touchdown of the game. This was more on the quarterback’s intuition than what Gase told him to do.
This should be a sign the Jets have a quarterback when Darnold can make plays through his gut and arm. His pass to Anderson can’t be taught. It has to come within the quarterback.
Darnold makes everything so good that we forget about the Jets’ ineptitude for one day.
This offense missed Darnold, which goes without saying. No one missed him more than Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, who had no room to run as defense dared Seimian and Falk to throw with no success by putting eight men in the box to stop the Jets running back. Now with Darnold throwing daggers, Bell should get room to run and be the impact running back he can be as he demonstrated yesterday.
It was interesting the Cowboys defense focused on Bell early and often, which set the stage to Darnold to throw deep in the first quarter. The Cowboys figured the Jets quarterback would be rusty to start off. That strategy backfired.
This said more about Darnold that he did not miss a beat. He has that natural talent that has the game comes easy for him.
Just his presence itself cured this offense altogether in a sense he had the command of the huddle and guys did what they were assigned to do. The offensive line played like they were inspired by Darnold’s orders, and the wide receivers knew what routes to run. Not only his impact showed on offense, but it inspired the defense to finally hit somebody as the Jets defensive line hit Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott all day to the point he was ineffective.
Darnold might as well be chicken soup for the soul to the Jets, and he certainly is a cure to solve all offensive issues the way a chicken soup cures a person’s cold.
He brought sunshine to this offense in a sense he made this offense beautiful to watch just by throwing daggers. When he engineered a 14-play, 83-yard touchdown drive to give the Jets a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, it was like God said let there be light on the first day, and the light came in a sense Darnold’s arm and presence resulted in eight first downs in that touchdown drive.
Darnold brings better days ahead for a franchise that could use it. As long as he is playing, the Jets can win games and participate in the playoffs. Winning a Super Bowl with him would not be out of the question. It’s why ex-Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan pulled all the stops to trade up in the draft to be in a position to draft him. It was why trading up to draft him turn out to be the Jets’ biggest win since they last went to the AFC Championship Game.
The Jets will play the undefeated, defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on Monday night of next week. Maybe they don’t win this game, but they have a shot at home because of Darnold. They will make it interesting for sure.
They had a slight shot to beat the Cowboys because of Darnold on Sunday.
The Cowboys knew it the hard way after the game.
Yes, Darnold makes everything great for one day in his return.