New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold moved closer to securing the starting quarterback job after Friday’s preseason game against the New York Giants.
Making his second straight preseason start, Darnold didn’t put up overwhelming numbers: He finished 8 of 16 for 86 yards and a touchdown in the 22-16 loss to the Giants.
However, Darnold did lead a pair of touchdown drives and did not commit any turnovers in the third installment of the Jets’ quarterback competition that also features incumbent Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater.
“I’m not here to say that I’ve won the job or that I’ve lost the job,” said Darnold after the game, per the New York Daily News. “I’m just going to continue to play consistent football … continue to be a good leader for the team and really continue to be myself. At the end of the day, that’s a coach’s decision.”
New York coach Todd Bowles did not reveal his plans for the regular-season opener, saying “we got two weeks to make that decision.” However, Bowles said nothing to douse the belief that Darnold will be under center in Week 1.
“He’ll progress from here until the day he retires,” Bowles said. “He’s done everything we’re asking him to do. He’s learning from mistakes. He’s seeing things as he goes as a rookie quarterback. … The more he plays, the quicker the football decisions come.”
The Jets traded up three spots in the NFL Draft to take Darnold with the No. 3 overall selection out of USC. Darnold was sharp in his preseason debut against Atlanta, finishing finishing 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. In his first preseason start, Darnold was 8 of 11 for 62 yards and an interception against Washington.
Darnold got the Giants off to a fast start in Friday’s matchup, leading the team on an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Bilal Powell’s 10-yard touchdown run. He was 3 of 5 for 36 yards and added a 14-yard run on the scoring drive.
In the second quarter, Darnold led another touchdown drive, connecting with wide receiver Terrelle Pryor on a 12-yard scoring strike for a 13-7 lead.
“With the way our defense gives such a great look during practice, when I get out in the game it kind of feels the same, which is a really good feeling as a guy that hasn’t played a ton of NFL football games,” Darnold said. “It’s awesome to be able to go out there in the preseason and feel the same way that I do in practice: really comfortable and know when I got to get out of the pocket.
“All of those things that have been popping up in my head in practice, it kind of feels the same way in the games, which is pretty cool.”
Bridgewater, trying to resurrect his career after missing nearly two full seasons following a devastating knee injury with the Minnesota Vikings, again acquitted himself well by finishing 11 of 15 for 104 yards.
Touted as a possible trade candidate depending on Darnold’s progress, Bridgewater has a 104.7 passer rating in three preseason games, completing 28 of 38 passes for 316 yards, two TDs and one interception.
McCown, last season’s starter who entering training camp atop the depth chart, did not play against the Giants.