The first preseason game for the New York Jets came with two big debuts at the Quarterback position from Teddy Bridgewater in his first extended playing time since returning from a knee injury that nearly ended his career, the other from the third pick in April’s NFL draft rookie Sam Darnold. Coming together to lead the Jets to a 17-0 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.
Both Quarterbacks showed no signs of feeling pressure in their Jets debut, and look to be putting pressure back on Jets coach Todd Bowles as to how he will handle his quarterback situation with three capable starters.
It had been two years since Bridgewater’s devastating knee injury and he before tonight he had only attempted two NFL passes in that time. But Friday he was ready “I wasn’t nervous,” Bridgewater said. “I trusted everything that took place prior to tonight, whether it was the sessions in the training room, or the film room … and when that moment finally presents itself, you’re ready for it. Tonight, I was ready.”
In his two series it showed how ready Bridgewater was, completing 7-of-8 passes for 85 yards He proved to be able to move the ball downfield leading the team to their first touchdown of the season on a 16 yard pass to running back Isaiah Crowell.
Aside from the stats Jets fans should be excited about how Bridgewater looked on the field proving to be mobile and extend plays on his feet, a presence in the pocket, an ability to go through his reads and make the right throws.
“I was at peace out there,” Bridgewater said. “I was just so excited. I was glad to be out there with the guys, looking at [their] eyes, and feeding off [their] energy.”
It was easy to see how comfortable and excited Bridgewater was to be out there. After two years and a return like Friday’s game it makes it hard not to root for the former Pro Bowler. It will be interesting to see how the Jets handle the situation.
With 8:41 left in the Second quarter fans at Metlife Stadium broke out in applause and “Samchise” chants started as rookie Sam Darnold took his first in game snap as a New York Jet. Darnold left a lasting first impression in his debut going 13-for-18 for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Darnold showcased an uncommon awareness in the pocket, coupled with his mobility and ability to avoid defenders by getting outside of the pocket. This was on display with the quarterbacks first touchdown pass stepping up in the pocket away from the pass rushers, throwing on the move with a well placed ball to Charles Johnson in the corner of the end zone for the score.
When asked by NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones what impressed him the most about Darnolds performance Jets coach Todd Bowles said “The poise in the pocket, Obviously, the touchdown throw, the scramble, was very good use of his feet and accuracy. He does that in practice all the time, so I can’t say it impresses me because we see that every day. There’s things he can get better at, too, but it’s a good start.”
Before Friday’s game a bulk of the pressure was on Bridgewater and Darnold both making their Jets debuts, and both with a lot of questions but after the first preseason game they are forcing the questions to go back to Head Coach Todd Bowles who when asked about the decision he will have to make at quarterback said.
“We’ll see how the preseason goes,” Bowles said. “Like I said, I’ll make my decision when it happens. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game. I’m going to take my notes and watch practice and compare with the coaches and we’ll come up with a decision. It’s a tough decision. We’ve got three good players and we’re happy to have them.”
Jets fans might not have an answer right away as to who is going to be their starting quarterback, but after one game should feel confident that they have finally answered the question they had at that position and can know that they have three strong options and two young quarterbacks that have a lot of potential to succeed. Jets fans now have a reason to be excited knowing they may have found their quarterback of the future.