Robert Saleh: There’s a reason why Sam Darnold was the No. 3 pick in the draft

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When the Jets looked like they’d go winless in 2020, it seemed obvious they’d move on from quarterback Sam Darnold to draft Trevor Lawrence.

But now that the Jaguars are selecting at No. 1 and the Jets are No. 2, the decision on Darnold doesn’t seem quite so easy.

In Robert Saleh’s introductory press conference on Thursday, the new head coach understandably wasn’t ready to declare Darnold the starting QB for training camp.

“There’s a lot of things that we have to do moving forward. We’re just getting the staff into the building, so there’s so many things that we have to do from an evaluation standpoint with regards to the entire roster — not just at quarterback,” Saleh said. “To give you that answer right now would not be fair. There’s a lot of discussions that need to be had with Joe’s staff and obviously himself. So to give you that answer right now would be a bit premature.”

But Saleh did have some complimentary things to say about Darnold, stemming from coaching against him in the 2020 season and his conversations with Jets officials.

“What I can tell you with regards to Sam is he’s got an unbelievable arm talent,” Saleh said. “There’s a reason why he was the No. 3 pick in the draft. He’s fearless in the pocket. He’s got a natural throwing motion. He’s mobile. He’s extremely intelligent. He’s tough as nails. His reputation in the locker room is unquestioned. Just that in general — there’s a reason why he was the third pick in the draft and you can see all those qualities on tape and in the building [from] the way people speak about him.”

Darnold has a career 59.8 completion percentage through 38 games in three seasons, with 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions.

How New York decides to handle the QB position and the No. 2 overall pick will have ripple effects throughout the league.

42 responses to “Robert Saleh: There’s a reason why Sam Darnold was the No. 3 pick in the draft

  1. Averaging ~200 yards, 1TD, 1 INT per game is definitely not what you want to see out of a ‘franchise’ guy, regardless of coaching. Tannehill was better under Gase than Darnold was, so expecting the same kind of bump from the coaching turnover might not be realistic.

  2. I agree with all those great things he said about Sam. And I still want Deshaun Watson or Zach Wilson.

  3. okay, plenty of teams hit and miss in the draft coach. He isn’t very good at QB the End.

  4. Just look at buffalo – all it took was one top end receiver to put Josh Allen to the top tier of QB’s. Give Darnold some tools and coaching and he could be very good.

  5. There’s just no way the Jets hired a defensive minded HC to take a QB at 2. No way. They might get him a LT or a WR but they won’t take another QB. They’ll build around him while Saleh makes the D the face of the team.

  6. Why would you bail on this guy Darnold already? Look at what happened when Tannehill got away from Gase. As a miami fan id gladly give you Tua for Darnold.

  7. Unlike the Lions, who should get rid of Stafford, the Jets really should keep Darnold. Good move.

  8. There was a reason ….was drafted in the top ten
    Just google NFL draft busts

  9. Gase did Darnold no favors. He was proclaimed to be the “QB Whisperer” it’s more like the QB Killer.

    As a Dolphin Fan, we were hoping you’d hang on to Gase forever. Darnold will be fine now that Gase has been removed from the equation.

  10. 1 8 Rate This
    50Stars says:
    January 21, 2021 at 2:48 pm
    Just look at buffalo – all it took was one top end receiver to put Josh Allen to the top tier of QB’s. Give Darnold some tools and coaching and he could be very good.
    Great point. I remember thinking that Josh Allen was like another Blake Bortles, who was big, strong armed, fast, tough, but just was not accurate. Ends up, he just needed time and some great players around him, like Diggs. Maybe it will be the same here.

  11. 50Stars says:
    January 21, 2021 at 2:48 pm
    Just look at buffalo – all it took was one top end receiver to put Josh Allen to the top tier of QB’s. Give Darnold some tools and coaching and he could be very good.


    No doubt Darnold would perform better with an upgraded supporting cast. But as big a boon as Diggs is, let’s not discount the fact that Allen worked with a quarterbacks coach and revamped his throwing mechanics in the offseason. His mechanics have been broken down a few times by commentators in games, showing before and after sequences. Huge difference. So it’s not all on the front office. The QB has to put in the work too to keep getting better

  12. Few QBs can succeed on a team that is devoid of talent. The Jets have drafted poorly and made some head scratching free agent signings the last few years. Darnold has to fight with a short stick against teams armed with swords.

    Trade down in the draft and get a boatload of draft picks. Then draft WISELY to get him some help. One O-lineman drafted last year doesn’t fix a five man line. Who does he have to pass to or help him in the running game?

  13. chipster says:
    “Just look at buffalo – all it took was one top end receiver to put Josh Allen to the top tier of QB’s. Give Darnold some tools and coaching and he could be very good.”
    Allen’s main issue was playing hero ball (not throwing it away, fumbling trying to get an extra yard etc) He still does it but a lot less now.

    Darolds main issue is not seeing his WR options within the defensive scheme and not finding the open man or turning it over.

    Can that be fixed?

    Replace/move to the bench RT Fant, RG Andrews, and RG Van Roten (they have Pat Elflein now) on the OL. Get some speed at RB, and throw some numbers at WR via FA & the draft.

  14. A lot of Cleveland Browns fans were furious when they picked Baker Mayfield #1 overall. They wanted Darnold. One has to wonder how good Darnold might be if he had the kind of talent around him that Mayfield has now.

  15. Just because he said Darnold is good, it just coachspeak.
    No knock on the new HC, but really, what other thing can he say? If he has to stick with Darnold, he cant bash him. If he doesnt have to stick with Darnold, he cant kill his trade value. These words literally mean nothing.

  16. I don’t think Darnold is a bad QB. he just needs the right coach to help him with his decision-making. Physically, he has all the tools.

  17. K teams say what they have to say and take what’s left on the table. It’s hit or miss at best and mostly miss. It would really be cool to know who any of the teams that drafted quarter backs would pick if they had the first pick.

  18. Sam is not a starter qb who scares any team or fan base facing him at the helm. Jets would be wise to cut bait.

  19. For those of us with our neck NOT on the line it is easy to say “get someone else”. It is easy to say get Deshaun Watson however what makes you think he would want to come to New York. I really think that if you improve the talent around Darnold, and you have 2-lst, 2-2nds and 2-3rds to do it, you really have a chance to take many steps forward. Just a couple of years ago many were saying that Josh Allen was a flop and look now.

  20. Darnold is HOF worthy, IMHO, just for lasting this long with the Jets. I’d take him over the other QBs in the draft not named Lawrence. Sewell would be my pick, or trade down a pick or two and take Chase. Hopefully Saleh can turn the team around. Not sure he will get much help from the front office/ownership.

  21. darnold never stood a chance with the coaching and lack of supporting cast. give him a number one receiver some blocking and a decent run game….

  22. Just a couple months ago a lot people where still questioning Josh Allen. Young QB’s generally take 2 or 3 years to mature into elite QB’s, and even more time if they’re on a horrendous team like the Jets. Reminds me of Steve Young’s early career with the horrendous Tampa Bay organization. They gave up on him, traded him the the 49ers and Young became a super bowl winning HOF QB> Darnold is just as good as Steve Young, and the Jets are even worse than that Bucs team was. So go ahead, trade him to someone like the Saints. Unless you have the #1 pick this year, there isn’t a QB other Than Trevor Lawrence that’s better than Darnold.

  23. a good quarterback with a bad coach doesnt improve. if your coaching staff got you the first pick…if you werent plagued with injuries…replace that coach…

  24. The jury is still out on Darnold but if they were to stick with him and get him to play up to his potential that would be huge. Allows to them to keep the #3 pick or perhaps trade back and get more picks. Jets have plenty of other needs- corner, O-Line, a #1 receiver all deserving consideration for using a top pick on. Let’s not act like QB is the only area this team needs to think about upgrading in.

  25. So now I guess Josh Allen is going to be pointed to by every team with a highly drafted QB who is disappointing after 2-3 years as evidence you need to be patient. Well for every Josh Allen there’s a Mitch Trubisky (maybe 3 or 4) who isn’t any better after 4 years in the league than he was when he was drafted. Be careful using Josh as a case study… he’s more the exception than the rule and far more often than not, if the light doesn’t go on for QB by the end of his 3rd year in the league, it never will.

  26. “There’s a reason why Sam Darnold was the No. 3 pick in the draft”
    Well, then I’d love to hear the ‘reason’ Mitch Trubinski was taken 2nd in the draft?
    (before Watson & Mahommes)

  27. And there is also a reason 3 years into the Darnold experience that team is shedding coaches and front offices and still picking in top three

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