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Sam Darnold says he needs to ‘trust his gut’

New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold comes to a realization about needing to “trust his gut” after a horrible performance in Cleveland.

Robby Sabo

There’s no question that Sam Darnold would be thinking hard about life in the NFL after he and his team fell to the Cleveland Browns last Thursday night.

Finishing just 15-of-31 for 169 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions would have any rookie quarterback headed back to the drawing board.

In Darnold’s case, he believes correcting the ugliness lies in the area of “trusting his gut,” via a Monday conference call as the New York Jets get back to work in preparing for the tough Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Trusting what I see and letting it rip, that’s really the biggest thing,” Darnold said. “Just going one to two to three and going through it like that. Going through my reads quick and decisively, but at the same time, just trusting what I’m seeing out there. Because every time I look back at it, my first read, sometimes I would think the defense is maybe not going to give me something and I would skip over a progression. And it was like, ‘Man, if I really just look at that first progression, it was there.’ A couple plays popped up like that. From that perspective, I really just wish that sometimes I could trust my gut and trust the progression. If I continue to do that throughout the season, I feel like I’ll have a lot of success.”

Honestly, the kid couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s terrific that he always puts the blame on himself. It’s a leadership trait that simply cannot be coached or forced upon. He just has that “it” factor relating to leadership and character.

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At the same time, his poor performance last Thursday is on the Jets. It’s on the conservative gameplan and overall mindset Todd Bowles and Jeremy Bates installed on the offensive side of the ball.

Without having legit audible power at the line of scrimmage, the Jets offense is routinely running into eight-man boxes and throwing into two-deep. Moreover, rarely can Darnold take a deep shot in order to stretch the defense. (Yes, some go routes were apparent in Cleveland, but the percentage compared to the average NFL offense is far below normal.)

The New York Jets must trust their rookie quarterback more. They must allow him to develop. Winning games with the defensive/conservative mind of Todd Bowles sounds OK on the surface, but sacrificing Darnold’s progression to do so is an entirely different topic.

Sure, be more decisive, Sam, but also understand the handicap you faced.

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