This wasn’t the rookie year Sam Darnold imagined. He lost three times as many games as he won, dealt with an injury and it concluded with a coaching change, as Todd Bowles was fired after his third straight losing season.
“It sucks,” the 21-year-old Jets’ quarterback said on Monday, “and hopefully throughout my career here it never happens again.”
Darnold, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, expected to be consulted with by the team’s higher-ups as the process of hiring a new coach moves along. General manager Mike Maccagnan said they would like Darnold to meet with the coaching candidates as part of the process.
There is the belief by some the Jets should zero in on an offensive-minded coach capable of developing Darnold. But he didn’t think it was a necessity for that to happen and doesn’t believe a new offensive system will set back his development, either.
“I think any time you make a coaching change, any time new coaches come in on the offensive side of the ball, there’s always going to be a learning process,” Darnold said. “But at the same time, those guys upstairs do a great job hiring the right guys. They get paid to make those decisions and I have confidence they’re going to make the right decisions. I’m really confident in the offense that’s going to be here in the future and I’m going to do my best to produce a lot of points and produce a lot of wins.”
Darnold was sad to see Bowles go, and credited his former coach’s even-keeled approach in helping him through what was a difficult rookie season. He also learned from him that people respect consistency, even if it didn’t result in more wins than losses.
“He showed me how to lead that way, and it is possible to lead that way,” he said.
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As for his own performance, Darnold was encouraged with how he finished. After missing a month with a sprained right foot, he played far better in the season’s final four games, throwing six touchdowns and one interception though he was not at his best in a season-ending 38-3 loss to the Patriots on Sunday. Darnold finished the season with 17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions, a 57.7 completion percentage and a 77.6 quarterback rating.
“I thought in the beginning of the year, I took a while to kind of get comfortable, and once I got comfortable in the offense and how everything was going, I felt very confident when I was out there,” he said. “I’m just going to keep growing and keep making those strides, and watch the tape, see how I can get better, move forward from there.”
He will be doing so with a new coach. Darnold would like it to be his last one.
“[You] always want someone to come in here and provide stability,” he said. “Hopefully we can win a lot of games together.”