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Sam Darnold feels responsible for stagnant offense

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There are two sides to every coin.

While Baker Mayfield was the toast of a nation Thursday night, Sam Darnold found out how short the honeymoon period can be when you play in New York.

A mere 11 days after the rookie quarterback was crowned the king of the Empire City, the proletariat revolted.

Darnold looked every bit a rookie quarterback in Thursday night's 21-17 collapse to the Cleveland Browns. The quarterback's inability to connect all night helped set the table for Mayfield's epic comeback.

"There were a couple plays, but for me I just have to play better," Darnold said after the game. "It is as simple as that. It's not acceptable the way I played. I know that, and I have to take it like a man. I feel like I'm responsible for the stagnant offense we had. I just have to play better, that's it. Find completions and continue to do what I've been doing."

Darnold led three scoring drives on 13 possessions, the first touchdown drive was aided by a punt block and the second mainly a ground-heavy attack. The rookie quarterback completed just five first-half passes, only one which was thrown beyond the line of scrimmage (2 yards). Darnold finished the day completing just 15 of 31 passes for 169 yards, a 5.5 yard per attempt average, zero TD passes and two interceptions, for a 38.2 QB rating. His final two possessions ended in interceptions, negating any late comeback chance.

"I just made stupid mistakes in the fourth quarter and some missed opportunities throughout the whole game. I just have to play better, and that's on me," he said.

Darnold spent most of the day dinking and dunking as the coaching staff didn't appear to trust the rookie to make the proper downfield reads on the road against a good defense on a short week. Darnold attempted just two passes of 15-plus air yards Thursday night, via Next Gen Stats, none before the fourth quarter -- the second a desperation heave that ended the game on an INT.

"We always have shots in our offense," Darnold said when asked about the lack of deep shots. "We are always trying to take shots, but they were keeping the ball in front of them tonight. With that being said, we have to make them pay. Put the ball in our playmakers' hands and let them do work."

Credit the rookie with being his own harshest critic.

"Be more decisive," he said when asked what he can improve upon. "I felt like sometimes I was hanging in there, looking at one guy and trying to wait for him to get open. I just have to move onto my next progression and move on from there."

Thursday night's loss underscored the need for patience in New York, however difficult that might be.

Just as it was ludicrous for the tabloids to anoint Darnold the savior after one game, it's equally asinine for anyone trashing the rookie quarterback for a poor outing. Darnold, 21, is the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start the season. There will be struggles. To expect otherwise would be to ignore reality for the make-believe fairyland concocted in one's own mind.

Most rookies tossed into the fire have bad games. Peyton Manning famously flopped his rookie season (still owns the rookie INT record), ditto for Eli once he got a shot for the Giants. The reason many teams are in position to draft a signal-caller like Darnold high is because the surrounding talent isn't ready to buoy the young passer. It takes time for a QB to be able to lift the boats around him.

Like every single person on the planet, from the leaders of the Free World, to the building janitor, to the overdressed waitress at your local diner, quarterbacks will have bad days at the office.

Sam Darnold had a bad day Thursday night. He admitted as much. Learning from the mistakes is the next step in the growing process.

Perhaps Darnold's biggest throw of the season remains his first, that awful pick-six. The rookie displayed poise after the interception, not letting himself be rattled. It's that headiness that Gang Green fans can find solace in after a bad game. The rookie won't let the loss sink the rest of his season.

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