Face it when Sam Darnold threw a pick in his first pass attempt, New York Jets fans were saying “here we go again.” Well that mistake turn out to be an after thought as the rookie quarterback bounced back and play well in the 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions.
Darnold became the youngest quarterback to start the opening game in the NFL since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. Pretty much the first quarter was all about establishing the running game and controlling time of possession for 13:03. The Lions barely had the ball and that help the Jets confidence throughout the game.
After halftime, the Lions scored and made it a 17-17 game. Momentum shifted back to the Lions for a short while until Darnold marched down the field and threw a touchdown to Quincy Enunwa, who finished with 10 receptions for 63 yards. Then the avalanche started with a pick-six by linebacker Daron Lee, 78-yard punt return by wide receiver Andre Roberts, 32-yard field goal by K Jason Myers, and a 62-yard touchdown run by running back Isaiah Crowell.
It became a nightmarish debut for Lions coach Matt Patricia and Matthew Stafford. He finished with one touchdown and four interceptions, and the Jets knew what he was doing.
“We were calling out their plays as (Stafford) was getting up to the line,” said Lee, who was credited with three of the Jets’ 12 pass breakups Monday, according to The Detroit News. “We knew his signals. We knew everything. … It just seemed like we were in his head as a defense.”
This is the 10-year veteran’s worst game since his rookie season in 2009. It’s as if the roles have changed in one night, and yet, Darnold came out on top. The 21-year-old show poised in a hostile environment and delivered on the national stage. Although it’s only one game, fans and critics see that the Jets possibly have found a franchise quarterback, who is also poised at his age.
“It’s great to see it,” said coach Todd Bowles after the win over Detroit. “It’s rare more now a days, it was a little more common back then for whatever reason, but it’s a little more rare than I’ve been around. It’s exciting to see because he got an old soul but he’s young in age, but he understands the game very well and he works at it the right way.”
Their next game is against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1 pm. Let’s see what Darnold does in his first home game.