Sam Darnold's historic debut puts him in HOF company


Sam Darnold on the support he's gotten from players like DL Steve McLendon and the rest of the Jets D. The Jets constantly looked like they were a step or two ahead of the Lions.

Lee then mentioned how dedicated Darnold is, and how hard he works, and how "Uncle Josh", i.e. 39-year-old Josh McCown, keeps the rookie steady... but perhaps what matters most is how much this young quarterback, barely of legal drinking age, a few weeks removed from taking third-team reps in training camp, has the belief of the rest of the locker room. The rookie quarterback thought he played "pretty well", but you saw more than that, and so did the players who suited up next to him, who cheered him on from the sidelines, who told him they weren't anxious after he threw a pick-six on the very first play of his first-ever National Football League game. Not only was Lions coach Matt Patricia blown out in his first game at the helm, leading to booing from the Detroit contingent, but Stafford took multiple shots from defenders and at times walked with a limp. The Jets then took control.

No. But I never thought they'd play so poorly against the Jets. The miscue dropped Stafford to 0 for 4 passing.

"We were calling out their plays as he's getting up to the line", Lee said. Andre Roberts, who had already delivered one big return in the first quarter, tip-toed the sideline for a 78-yard punt return to the house.

The run defense, which is supposed to be stouter, gave up 169 yards on 36 carries with a long run of 62 yards by Isaiah Crowell for a touchdown.

Time lapse: The Jets scored 31 points in 12:20. And their 48 points were the most the franchise has ever tallied on the road. I told somebody I was gonna be the first one to score the first defensive touchdown.

For starters, the Jets' passing offense scored four points more than expected based on the down, distance and field position of each play, indicating Darnold did nothing more than an average quarterback would be expected to do. His mobility to either side of the field while simultaneously keeping his eyes downfield for open lanes is advanced for any age. He's brought that to New England, I'm sure he's brought that to Detroit.

And, maybe most importantly, the Jets were counting on him not to be overwhelmed by the moment.

"The way he came in just set the tone right away", Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis said.

Darnold did not get spooked. "They give us little tips". If they establish the run vs. Detroit, which is a very real possibility, they will lighten Darnold's burden, keep the ball out of Matthew Stafford's hands and keep the score low - which is exactly how they can win.

The city's bright lights were going to shine on Darnold after Monday night no matter what. "They obviously are the ones that played well tonight", Patricia said.

It would be a mistake, however, to ignore all the contributions from so many other difference-makers who were also new to NY.