Sam Darnold’s move south meant the relief of the eternally high pressure that comes with being a starting quarterback in New York.
That doesn’t mean Darnold doesn’t expect plenty of himself in his second NFL act.
“It depends on how you see it,” Darnold said of the new situation, via the team’s official site. “I’ve always had high expectations for myself, first and foremost. Expectations outside of that, to be honest, besides my teammates and my coaches, it doesn’t mean a whole lot.
“I think for me, it’s about what we expect as a team, what we expect to win, and for me, it’s about completing the ball and getting the team down the field and scoring touchdowns. That’s all I care about. As long as we do that and I do my job, we’re all good.”
What Darnold described is what should be the goal of every quarterback at every level of the game, but often wasn’t the result in New York. Challenged with helping save a Jets franchise that desperately needed it, Darnold often found himself in disadvantageous situations, forced to learn the ropes of the NFL while playing with a rotating cast of offensive linemen and pass-catchers. That meant he and the Jets didn’t move the ball down the field all that often.
Eventually, New York had seen enough, firing Darnold’s coach and sending the quarterback packing via a trade to Carolina. Darnold gets a fresh chance to prove he is, in fact, a promising talent with the Panthers, who don’t want him to be their savior — just their quarterback.
“For me, it’s continue to play my game,” Darnold said. “When you get out on the field, you’ve got to have a flow.
“You can’t be thinking about doing something a different way. I’ve got to play my style of ball. That’s why they brought me here, play my style of ball and make plays the way I do.”
Darnold showed brief glimpses of the rare talent that saw him star at USC before he was chosen third overall in the 2018 draft. It just wasn’t nearly as frequent as the Jets would have liked, and we can all acknowledge they didn’t exactly put the quarterback in the best situation to succeed, either.
Darnold appears to be walking into a better one in Carolina. We’ll see this fall whether it helps him produce better results.
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