Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold to start Week 1 at Lions

The New York Jets' trade of Teddy Bridgewater underscored an obvious fact: Sam Darnold is the Week 1 starter.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Darnold will start Week 1 against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.

Anyone who followed the Jets through the preseason saw this move coming from five miles away.

The No. 3 overall pick steadily moved up the QB ladder since reporting to camp a few days late. Darnold started the past two preseason games, including last week's so-dubbed "dress rehearsal."

The 21-year-old quarterback completed 64.4 percent of his 45 preseason passes with two touchdowns to one interception, with an 83.9 quarterback rating.

Even with Bridgewater outplaying Darnold during the preseason, it was always the rookie's job to lose. Wednesday's trade of Teddy B confirmed as much.

Darnold impressed during the preseason with his ability to make reads, spread the ball around, an NFL-caliber arm, and improved pocket presence. Despite a middling 5.4 yards per attempt average and a reluctance to push the ball down the field, Darnold showed the Jets' brass he can command the team and be a dynamic point guard of the offense.

Darnold will become the youngest QB to start a season opener since the 1970 merger -- 21 years and 97 days old when the Jets play at Detroit -- and the second-youngest QB to start a game regardless of the week -- Tommy Maddox in 1992 at 21 years, 81 days for the Denver Broncos.

The Jets didn't draft the young USC product with the third overall pick to bring him along slowly. With veteran Josh McCown serving as a QB mentor, Darnold will learn under fire.

The man Gang Green fans have hung their hopes and dreams upon will make his first start in prime time, as it was always meant to be.

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