It’s looking as if Sam Darnold is having a terrible sophomore slump. And it’s been a slump for the books.
After an average performance in which his New York Jets lost to the Buffalo Bills in a close contest, he came down with mononucleosis. He missed the next four games before returning to a 0-4 Jets squad. It started off well with an upset win against the Dallas Cowboys that he was one of the main reasons for their victory. However, nothing went right after that win.
Over the course of the last three weeks, Darnold has thrown eight interceptions to three touchdowns. He has a passer rating of 50.9 and has been sacked 12 times (eight against the Jacksonville Jaguars). And even worse, he’s gone 0-3 during that entire span.
The former Trojan is in need of turning things around, and here are three quick fixes Sam Darnold can make.
1. Being more conservative with the ball
The Southern California product is a gunslinger and is someone that is known for forcing the ball into coverage. Last season, he tied for fourth in the league in interception percentage at 3.6. He hasn’t changed any of that as he holds the worst interception percentage at 5.2.
It’s something that is killing New York. Off of Darnold turnovers alone, the Jets defense has given up 26 points over the last three weeks. For example, in week eight when they played against the Jaguars Darnold had two interceptions that resulted in 14 points for the Jaguars. If you flip that around then it’s the Jets who win that game.
If he wants to get results for himself and his team then he’s going to need to be better with protecting the ball.
2. Get the ball out quick and extend plays if needed
Darnold has an uncanny ability to improvise and create plays out of nothing when pressured. It’s something that made him such a high draft pick coming out of college. He even provided fans a glimpse of this with his play last season.
— NFL (@NFL) June 6, 2019
And it’s important for the second-year field general to get the ball out early with the weak offensive line in front of him. According to Pro Football Focus, the offensive line is 26th in the league.
It’s the reason why Darnold has the fifth-highest sack percentage at 9.4. He needs to get the ball out early and often and extend plays if needed.
3. Get back to 2018 Week 14-17 Form
During this four-week period, Darnold was the best quarterback in the league according to PFF. He completed 80 of his 125 passes for 931 yards and six touchdowns to one interception. He ended up with a passer rating of 99.1 and also 77 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Darnold showed that he can go back to that same great period with his performance against the Dallas Cowboys when he came back from mono. He put together 23 completions on 32 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns to one interception.
The Jets are in need of this form from their first overall pick. If not, then they’re going to be in need of some changes in the future as they continue their rebuild.