If Daniel Jones is down in the dumps over his high ankle sprain that is forcing him to the sidelines for Eli Manning, he should listen to the other young franchise quarterback in town.
Sam Darnold missed three games in his rookie season with a foot injury and returned with a vengeance after watching Josh McCown.
“I’m sure he knows what to do ’cause he’s a smart kid. He’s doing all the right things so far,” Darnold said on Thursday.
“What I would do if I were him, just learn from Eli. That’s what I did last year. I learned from Josh a ton during that time when I was out, so that would be the advice I give him.”
Darnold passed for six TDs and threw just one INT over the final four games last season and appears primed for another December to remember following a season to mostly forget. Famous philosopher Yogi Berra once told us that you can observe a lot by just watching, and Darnold cannot understate how beneficial it was for him.
“It was huge,” Darnold said. “When I got to watch Josh and kinda see him, how he went about a day — walkthroughs, games — just to see him go about his business throughout the week and then on Sunday, I definitely learned a lot from him.”
Jones was able to watch Manning in the preseason and for the first two weeks of the regular season. So this will be a refresher course for him, however long it lasts. Asked what changed for him when he was back in the saddle, Darnold said: “I learned a ton from Josh … and got used to my receivers a little bit. I continued to get used to the playbook. So a bunch of things just kinda came together, and I felt really comfortable out there.”
It was uncomfortable watching the film of his egregious interception at the 1-yard line during the horrific loss to the previously winless Dolphins in Miami. For most young quarterbacks, learning to throw the ball away is a sign of growth.
“It wasn’t a good play at all. … Those plays are always tough to watch,” Darnold said.
Darnold won the next three games (seven TDs, one INT) before the other horrific loss — to the previously winless Bengals.
“I think I’ve gotten better since. Yeah, for sure,” Darnold said.
His September bout with mononucleosis tripped him up, and Darnold may only now be on the brink of making that much-ballyhooed second-year leap. We forget that he has started only 22 NFL games (30 TDs, 25 INTs).
“I can always continue to get better fundamentally with my feet,” Darnold said, “making sure that I’m continuing to be fast in the pocket, making good decisions, quick decisions and just really putting the ball in play, making sure that I’m continuing to find completions out there,” Darnold said.
The weather isn’t expected to be much of a factor Sunday with temperatures around 40 degrees and a light wind when the Dolphins come north. Darnold, cool California customer, has adapted to the elements.
“I just like going out there, especially when the fans are all riled up. I feel like when it’s colder, it gets a little louder too,” Darnold said and smiled, “ ’cause somehow the fans, they gotta stay warm out there, so they’re riled up, ready to go. So it’s a fun atmosphere.
“I think football in November, December, it’s always fun ball, so I just have a good time out there.”
He can only imagine how much fun it would be on a winner. But at least he gets to play the game he loves. Now Daniel Jones can only watch.