Sam Darnold enters a pivotal third season with the New York Jets.
After two wonky years, not having an offseason to mesh with his receivers and new O-line won't make life any easier on the first-round quarterback. For his part, Darnold believes his second year in coach Adam Gase's offense will make him better.
"I have a ton more confidence in myself to be able to go out there and play consistent football," Darnold said Tuesday, via the team's official website.
Darnold added: "I'm very confident in that. Spending so much time with Coach Gase, especially before last year, just trying to learn this offense as fast I could, it was definitely a process. I spent hours and hours trying to learn it every single day and I'm still doing that. I'm still learning the offense, but I'm definitely comfortable teaching some of the young guys and the guys who haven't been in this system before. I'm just really excited to get that rolling."
In 26 starts over two seasons in New York, Darnold has been hit-or-miss, completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 36 TDs and 28 INTs. The signal-caller shows flashes of talent with the ability to maneuver the pocket and rocket passes on the move. Too often, last year, however, he was seeing those proverbial ghosts.
The 2020 season could be a make-or-break for Darnold. With the draft capital GM Joe Douglas -- who wasn't around when Darnold was selected -- earned from the Jamal Adams trade, the Jets could decide to move on to another rookie QB if Darnold craters in his third season.
Both the QB and coach believe this year will be different.
"I think Sam has a little bit of a different way about him," Gase said. "There's less learning for him. He does know this offense a lot better than when we started last year. I think he's more detail oriented. He's able to help a lot of the guys whether it's up front, outside or in the backfield. I do think there's a lot more confidence on his part. And his relationship with the defensive players, I think he's always done a good job of making sure he's not just focused on one side of the ball. There's a lot of good communication that goes on between him and defensive players as well."
The Jets haven't helped Darnold out much in his first two years, surrounding him with few weapons and a disastrous offensive line. The young QB has been in just about as poor a situation as you can concoct.
The offensive line has been reshuffled with first-round pick Mekhi Becton slated at left tackle. Rookie second-rounder Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman were brought in to replace Robby Anderson. The improvements, on the whole, appear minimal as we head towards training camp.
A strong QB, however, raises all boats. If Darnold is the player the Jets believed he could be when they selected him No. 3 overall in 2018, he'll overcome any poor circumstances in his third season. If not, it could be time for New York to move on.