TOJ New York Jets Film Review – Sam Darnold’s Rookie Season (Part 1)

Joe Blewett with part one of his film breakdown of Sam Darnold’s rookie season…

Part 1 of the two part review of Sam Darnold’s rookie season. Breaking down 72 plays…

Taking a look at ___ plays from Sam Darnold’s Rookie season showing both of his strengths and weaknesses.

First throw of Darnold’s career. Darnold tries to hit Powell on a throwback but the ball is intercepted. The 5 tech on the top is never picked up forcing Darnold to step up to get the throw off (more time for d to react) and Darnold never sees the DB/needs to rope the ball.

The moment I realized that Darnold was better then Geno and Sanchez. The OLB on the play beats the cut block of Shell and is in the throwing lane of Darnold to the screen. Instead of throwing it right to the OLB (like Sanchez/Geno) he dirts the ball.

Jets run a mesh-sit concept vs cover 1 hole. Darnold drops back and reads the defense, sees that Sterling has good leverage on the DB playing overtop on the snag route. Really good ball placement here as well as he knows the DB will be inside of Sterling, so he leads him outside.

Jets put Anderson in motion to the field side and run a flat-5 concept to the bottom. Darnold passes up on the flat from Anderson as he sees the DB in close proximity/short gain. Darnold then looks to the boundary, sees Tomlinson open and puts the ball inside as the DB is outside

Darnold makes the right read here as he goes to lead Enunwa vertically and horizontally on the deep over. Darnold mechanics, with his lower body not driving through the throw. Leads to him throwing more with his upper body and “ripping” the ball. Overthrow here.

Darnold drops back and reads the left side of the field but the OLB penetrates on the TE stunt, Darnold avoids him, checks left again and sees nothing he likes. Works out to his right and sees Enunwa come open. Poise, athleticism, ability to keep eyes downfield and throw on move.

3rd and 2, Jets send Darnold on a designed QB run. Could see Gase using Darnold’s athleticism as a small part of his offense to keep defenses guessing. Pin and pull with Enunwa and Shell as Darnold wins the race to the outside. Picking up the first down.

Rpo from the Jets here. Frontside of the offensive line runs a lead pin and pull as Darnold reads to see if the MLB crashes down. If the LB squats hand the ball off, if the LB crashes down throw the slant. Darnold throws the slant and is SLIGHTLY off but Enunwa needs to catch.

Motion of Enunwa from the top helps Darnold ID the defense. Jets run a Texas concept to the bottom. As the ball is snapped Darnold reads the safeties. Then reads the buzz safety to see if he will carry Pryor up the seam opening the underneath for Enunwa. Hits Enunwa on the angle

Not showing this to bash Darnold, just want to show some of the differences in his game between the early season and late season. Here he rolls out to the left and tries to hit Enunwa on the over route as a part of the sail concept. Darnold has pressure but misses the throw.

Almost a fanatic play from Darnold here but the throw is about 2 yards too deep. Darnold drops back and reads the cover 1 robber. The pocket is collapsing around Darnold. He escapes while keeping his eyes downfield and sees Enunwa with vertical leverage on the out n up.

INT here wasn’t because of a bad read but because Darnold was late getting rid of the ball and lead the DB with his eyes. As Enunwa is breaking inside and the DB (who gets the pick) is dropping inward to the hash the ball should already been out.

Good job by Darnold here avoiding a hospital ball to Pryor on the inn route. As he drops back he sees Alonzo taking his exit angle towards the sideline and Pryor. Instead of leading Pryor into a huge hit, he throws the ball low and away.

Darnold on the play action naked bootleg. As he sees the DE pushing upfield as he turns around. Plants hard in the ground and hits Anderson with some good whip on the ball. Anderson fumbles this but a good play form Darnold nonetheless.

Dolphins run cover 3 buzz, Jets run a hoss concept on the bottom of the screen with the #1/2 WR’s. See some panic from Darnold here as the pocket collapses he looks to Anderson on the hitch but doesn’t see the DB on his exit angle to the curl/flat. Robbys saves him from the INT.

Jets go empty vs the Dolphins cover 2. Darnold drops back and reads the field side but sees nothing that is open (Pryor comes open after Darnold moves on). Beachum is beat by the DE, Darnold rolls out left. Waits for Herndon to get open and fires it in there for the completion.

Few missed chances here from Darnold on 1st down. First read on the flat-7, could’ve hit the flat for yac. Goes to the backside and probably couldve squeezed it into Anderson low. Will never know for sure but looks like Darnold throws it away but Enunwa almost gets the TD.

Jets run a sail concept to the field side vs this cover 1 defense. Enunwa is the intermediate read on the deep out. I like the slight hesitation from Darnold to hit Enunwa even though he is open because he is making sure the outside CB continues to carry Anderson deep.

Another INT from Darnold here. This times he reads field side 1/2 as they run a scissors concept. Darnold sees Pryor with inside leverage of the CB and the safety move out of position. Pryor trips and gives up (admitted it after the game) on the play leading to the INT.

Jets put Anderson in motion and run a post-wheel concept to the top of the screen. The outside deep 1/3rd safety carries Enunwa inside who sits his route down as the curl-flat matches Anderson who beats him deep. Darnold doesn’t see Anderson and hits Enunwa. Missed a big play.

Darnold drops back and reads this cover 3 defense. Feels pressure from the DE who is beating the Beachum inside. Darnold rolls out to his left and sees Herndon open down the left sideline. Drops in the perfect pass but Herndon drops the ball.

3rd and 15 and a solid play from Darnold. As the pocket collapses around him, he steps up (maybe a little too far) and delivers a pass to Pryor for the first down with pressure in his face. Good throw in between two zones.

This is a play that later in the season that Darnold makes/isn’t trigger shy. Really good movement in the pocket as he steps up to avoid outside pressure then laterally to avoid inside while keeping his eyes downfield but he misses McGuire out of the backfield. Sack.

This is one of the most absurd plays/throws of the season and would get talked about A LOT more if it were completed. Risky as hell but down 12 with 10:22 to go, 3rd and 22 and in the 4th sometimes you have to take a risk. Makes an absurd throw to goes right through Pryor’s hands.

Jets in a 2×2 gun set and run a mirrored panther concept on 3rd and 3. Darnold drops back, reads the right side and sees nothing he wants to throw. Comes back to his left and tries to hit Pryor (who stops his route) almost leading to th INT. Little bit of a force here from SD.

First game that Darnold truly struggled was vs the Browns. Here the Jets run a sail concept out of trips. Never looked comfortable this game and rushed some reads/throws. Here he throws the ball away when Anderson is open on the corner route vs this Tampa 2 defense.

Another missed play from Darnold. Here he rolls out to the right after play action as the Jets run an “overs” concept to the field side. Darnold tries to make a tough throw to Tomlinson (the ball is off) and misses Herndon running wide open on the deep over behind.

Really good job of avoiding pressure from Darnold here. As the loops after the fake handoff there is a LB right in his face, Darnold shows off his athleticism to get away. Rolls out right while getting chased from behind. Throws a little bit of a dangerous, but completed ball.

More good movement from Darnold. As he drops back Crowells cut block gets beat, and Shell who tries to trap the OLB gets shoved backwards/falls near Darnold. Darnold gets skinny, keeps his eyes downfield, changes his angle as he gets near the LB and floats it for the completion.

Jets run a spot concept to the bottom of the screen vs this cover 3 defense. Darnold takes the snap, checks the safety and then reads the spot concept. He is a half second too late on his ball to Enunwa leading to the PD.

Good read from Darnold here as the Jets run a mirrored pole concept vs cover 3 buzz. As the boundary side (top) curl-flat defender carries the seam route up the seam. Darnold knows he has room outside to hit the comeback with some good velocity on the ball.

Good decision and pass from Darnold here as the Browns drop into a soft cover 2 on 4th and 10. Darnold hits Kearse with velocity on the stick route with good ball placement outside as the MLB is coming from inside for the potential PD.

Bad INT from Darnold here. Darnold needs to read the defense, notice Tampa 2 and be more decisive with the ball. Kearse is open over the middle on the stick as the MLB drops into his zone. Darnold misses Kearse, panics and throws the ball up for the INT.

See some panic from Darnold here and some sloppy transitional footwork but still a great throw. Pryor is isolated on the backside on the dig route against another Tampa 2 defense. Darnold drops the ball over the hook-seam zone, again with some good touch/velocity.

From the Browns defense to the Jaguars for Darnold. Enunwa runs a deep slant on the boundary side of the field against this cover 6 defense. Darnold feels pressure from the edge and steps up away from it. Sees the LB clear his window and hits Q.

Ridiculous catch here from Herndon but not a good decision from Darnold on this switch-verticals concept. The outside corner bails and is in good position to play Herndon vertically. Darnold has pressure in his face and just chucks the ball up there. Was called back for a hold.

Interception here that was called back because of a hold on Anderson. Powell is split out wide and runs a skinny post underneath Anderson’s corner/flag. Darnold has some pressure in his face but isn’t able tot step into his throw and “rips” the ball over Powell’s head.

Great throw on the move here from Darnold to Kearse on the out vs this man defender on this cover 1 defense. Darnold rolls out to his left as he feels some pressure coming. Sees Kearse winning outside, plants getting his shoulder pointed and delivers a good ball.

Another pretty ridiculous throw from Darnold (if he even meant it, still not sure) to Herndon on the out route vs this combo coverage. Two DBS drive forward on the inn route and Darnold drops it overtop to Herndon on the sideline who makes a nice route adjustment.

Darnold was getting abused all game and had no time to throw. Gets blitzed with cover 1 behind it. Darnold drops back, checks left, then right and sees nothing he likes. Then looks over the middle and makes a quick decision to hit Leggett over the middle with pressure around him.

Near miss from Darnold here on the slot fade from Powell against a LB. Darnold sees Powell with leverage after reading the left side first. Isn’t able to step into the throw as there is again pressure in his face. Hits the fingertips of Powell as it is slightly off target.

Darnold’s on target with this throw even though it could have had a little bit better location. Enunwa is the #3 on the bottom and runs a deep over/slice route and gets behind the defense. Darnold doesn’t have the cleanest footwork here and rushes the throw but it gets there.Drop

Near INT and not a good decision from Darnold. On the top Herndon runs a flat and Enunwa a sit. Darnold should’ve hit Herndon as he has room and could’ve gotten close to the GL or a maybe a TD. Looks to Enunwa, doesn’t read the safety who is driving up and throws it right to him

Darnold feels/sees pressure up the middle as the Jags run a cross dog. Darnold moves out to his right, sees Enunwa make a good adjustment as he sees Darnold on the move and Darnold hits him.

Throw/reads that Darnold makes/hits later on in the season. Jets run a streak-seam concept to the top against this cover 3. Darnold needs to see Kearse clearing the intermediate zones and coming open up the seam. He doesn’t, then forces the ball after for another dropped int

Like I said before, Darnold was under pressure all game. Made some terrible decisions because of it and understandably looked uneasy but he also had some great plays/throws. Here its a little risky, but plants with pressure in his face, completion to Leggett with a defender near.

TD pass to Leggett as he releases off of the LOS and no Jags defender picks him up. Darnold sees him open and delivers the ball with some touch over the LB’s head.

Darnold misses Anderson deep here as Anderson beats Ramsey deep. Ball travels 60 yards in the air as it is just out of Anderson’s reach.

Good throw by Darnold but an even better PD by the CB. Darnold drops back and again feels some pressure from Miller and #95. Darnold throws the ball to Kearse over the middle in an area where only Kearse could catch it. CB makes a damn good play getting a finger on the ball.

The game that we saw the Darnold/Anderson start to develop. Darnold trust Anderson to win deep here as the CB has his hips square to the LOS as Anderson is stemming deep. Anderson blows by the CB and Darnold places the ball perfectly.

Another great throw from Darnold but this time to Enunwa. Enunwa runs a deep post vs this cover 4 defense and gets inside of the outside DB and overtop of the inside safety who is late to turn and run. Darnold places the ball perfectly and the refs miss a clear hold by Harris.

Another big boy throw from Darnold here as the Jets run a china conept vs this cover 1. Darnold sees Kearse with outside leverage on the CB, delivers a ball with good location and velocity. Throw from the opposite hash 5 yard line to the 26 yard line isn’t an easy throw.

Another good throw from Darnold here. Drops back and reads the left side, Leggett falls so Darnold reads the right as he also rolls out to that side as he feels some pressure. Sees a window to hit Tomlinson on the sideline and couldn’t have put the ball in a better spot. Dropped.

Beautiful throw by Darnold to Anderson for another TD. Darnold drops back and reads the boundary side against this cover 1 defense which draws the high safety to the right side. Darnold then trust Anderson to win deep on the CB. Leading him along the sideline.

Hesitation from Darnold on this throw to Kearse as the Jets run a “hawk” concept to the field side. Kearse is open but Darnold hesitates to throw the ball, needs to trust his eyes here. Also isn’t able to step into the throw because Carpenter is doing whatever he is doing.

Darnold receives the low snap from Long. Stares down Anderson on the 9 route, chucks the ball up without being able to step into the throw as there is pressure in his face from Winters getting trucked. INT

Solid location on this ball to Anderson (ball could’ve been more in front). Darnold drops back and reads the middle of the field of this cover 3 defense. Darnold trust Anderson to win vertically again and puts the ball in a good location but Anderson drops it.

Really good timing, placement and decision from Darnold here. Darnold sees the gap between the two zones + the MLB open his hips. Darnold throws the ball away from the MLB, with some zip and good timing as the ball arrives as Pryor turns around. TD.

Jets run a crease concept to the bottom of the screen vs cover 3. Darnold sees the hook-seam and curl-flat defenders not carry the two vertical routes and focus on the TE in the flat. Darnold drops in a good pass to the deep dig to the #1 WR.

Jets motion Anderson to the field side as a part of a trips set. Anderson runs a smoke route as Herndon/Leggett both release vertically. Darnold stares down Anderson and the defense all bites hard. Darnold throws it to Herndon for the easy TD.

Darnold rolls out to his right after play action. Leggett finds the soft spot in the zone defense and sits down in it. Darnold misses him for a good gain, holds the ball and tries to hit Powell but the pass gets deflected.

Even though this throw is short of getting a 1st, its one of the best examples of Darnolds play making ability/ability to make unordinary plays. Vikings overload Darnolds right side and get in fast. Darnold steps up and hits Powell even though he is getting pulled backwards.

Another good throw from Darnold. This time its on the wheel route to Sterling against a LB as Darnold sees that Sterling has vertical leverage on the LB. Darnold places it in a good spot, over the LB’s head but doesn’t it float it to where the safety has a shot at it. Dropped.

2nd quarter 10 mins left,10-7 game. Darnold chucks the ball up to Anderson deep down the field even though Smith is deep in this cover 2 defense. Don’t love the decision to just throw it up there in this situation. Anderson gets his hands on it but the ball is ripped out.

Darnold reads the defense after his play action fake vs this cover 6 defense. Sees Kearse open in a tight window along the right sideline on the out route. The ball hits Kearse’s fingertips as Darnold misses by just a few inches.

Darnold overthrows Anderson here. Anderson beats Rhodes deep down the right sideline as Rhodes is in man coverage. Darnold puts too much on the ball, leading Anderson 2-3 yards too far.

Jets in 13 personnel, singleback wing pair set and send all 3 TEs on verticals. Darnold has to step up from outside pressure so that might have delayed the throw but he releases the ball a second too late making this a very risky throw to Herndon thats right on target but dropped

A game that you can see Darnold struggled heavily in. He drops back after play action and reads the right side (top) but doesn’t see anything he likes. Eyes go left and tries to hit Kearse on the corner but doesn’t see the cloud CB dropping as their is #2 threat. PD into a INT.

Have to put up the bad plays/games to be fair in a review and there was a lot in this 3 game stretch against the Vikings/Bears/Dolphins. Here Darnold doesn’t have good transitional footwork/needs more active feet and misses Herndon behind.

Darnold drops back, reads the middle of the field and then the right. Seeing nothing he likes and with pressure coming from the interior he moves to his left. Sees a target that he likes and delivers a jump pass. Nothing crazy but like to show to ability to make off script throws

Showing off some of the wheels/athleticism of Darnold. He drops back and gets immediate pressure in his face. Scrambles out to the right, stepping through the attempted tackle by Kendricks and continues on for the 1st down.

Jets run a smash concept to the top out of this empty gun set. Good read and throw from Darnold vs this cover 1 defense. When the outside corner drives forward on the hitch. Darnold gets rid of the ball to Herndon who nearly gets in for the TD.