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New York Jets’ Sam Darnold: The backyard QB who isn’t seeing the field | Sabo’s Sessions

Sabo's Sessions, Sam Darnold
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New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is currently the backyard quarterback who isn’t seeing the entire field.

In a seven-on-seven, on grass, no equipment backyard football game, give me Sam Darnold. Brilliance comes from the kid’s right arm when he’s simply slinging it. No thinking, no structure, all fun.

When the game takes a turn to the structured, padded, professional level, the California kid may not be the best option. Through four games on the young campaign, Darnold has struggled mightily (to say the least). Darnold’s tallied just 792 yards and three touchdowns to four interceptions on a 59.4 completion percentage.

He has, quite frankly, looked lost.

Many of his issues have carried over from previous seasons. This includes poor footwork (always throwing from an open stance) and failing to properly roll through his progressions. Other attributes such as pocket poise have clearly regressed.

What makes matters horrifying is that all of these issues (and more) can be pulled from just one game, the New York Jets’ 37-28 defeat last Thursday night.

Not seeing the entire field

Perhaps Darnold’s worst habit is the stubbornness of his pre-snap first read. Once the kid locks onto his first read, he rarely finds success elsewhere.

Against Denver, late in the first quarter, a max-protect play-action concept was called and Darnold completely missed Lawrence Cager on the dig right down the middle of the field.

The zone play-action is affective, and Darnold is looking Cager’s way, yet he fails to pull the trigger for an unknown reason. This is just the first of many troubling instances in which the kid is staring down an open target only to not pull the trigger.

Later, the Jets quarterback locks onto the right side of the field in order to take advantage of the running back-tight end matchup in the red zone. Unfortunately, the Broncos played things perfectly.

Another one of Darnold’s troubling habits is the idea that he doesn’t read defenders’ leverage. Here, the linebacker is well outside the back, meaning Darnold will have no chance to get it to him.

On the other side, a wideout breaks wide-open against a safety on the corner and Jamison Crowder gets away on the whip route. Why would the Jets attack the right side where a loose linebacker and shaded single-high safety are favoring? It just makes no sense and the quarterback needs to read it.

In the second half, Darnold forced a wheel route to Frank Gore on third down. Nobody enjoyed watching a 37-year-old running back running a wheel. Not even Darnold could have liked it.

But why throw that ball when it’s not there?

This is a prime example of Darnold locking onto his first read and never letting it go.

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