Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold throwing the ball at OTAs, while New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson does the same.
Zach Wilson, Sam Darnold, NY Jets Image, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

It appears Joe Douglas and EA Sports agree on the Sam Darnold vs. Zach Wilson debate, as the veteran’s Madden rating trails the rookie’s.

Robby Sabo

What in the world is all this hubbub about Madden NFL 22? It’s just a video game.

Moreover, it’s just a video game that hasn’t featured wholesale changes since Terrell Owens was still active. (At least that’s what everybody says.)

Why all the noise? Why all the attention?

Think about it.

Twenty years ago, despite the fact that EA Sports’ Madden franchise enjoyed wild popularity nationwide (hello, PS2), active NFL players back then didn’t really grow up with the game en masse.

Therefore, professional football players hadn’t yet zeroed in on the game while growing up, while dreaming about appearing in the game as an actual NFL player one day.

Today is different thanks to Madden’s long-lasting nature.

A greater percentage of players and fans are familiar with the franchise and more of these kids hatched that in-the-game dream at an early age.

It all equates to Madden season representing an NFL and New York Jets topic in its own right. And it’s exactly why former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold looking up at rookie Zach Wilson in the Madden NFL 2022 overall rating column is a worthwhile story.

EA Sports agrees with Joe Douglas—at least for now

A day prior to the official start of Madden’s ratings week (July 26-30), EA Sports and ESPN released a bunch of player ratings. One of those players is a Utah native who now dons Gotham Green.

Despite his best (yet extremely confident) guess of 90 in mid-May, EA Sports slapped the kid quarterback with a respectable 75—three points shy of Trevor Lawrence’s 78 and one point ahead of both Justin Fields and Trey Lance.

Interestingly, a familiar face popped up when the program turned its attention to some of the non-rookies.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold enters the game at 71 overall, four points shy of the rookie that replaced him in New Jersey. A year ago, Darnold started with a 73 marker.

Of course, considering today’s instant-informational world, Madden ratings can change on a dime. These are just the initial player ratings or the out-of-the-box ratings that are carried into the initial sale (pre-live update).

For those unfamiliar, a player’s rating will increase or decrease depending on real-life performance. The same can be said for a team’s overall rating.

Still, Darnold’s 71 shines a rough light on where the kid’s quarterbacking prowess stands in the casual football world. Many a Jet fan could heave easily believed a much higher Darnold rating considering he’s now a former Jet—as a good chunk of the Jets fans who also play Madden firmly believe the franchise hates Gang Green.

Other new-destination player ratings

Some of the other new-destination player ratings include Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (83 overall rating) and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (72 overall rating).

  • Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers: 71 OVR
  • Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams: 83 OVR
  • Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts: 72 OVR
  • Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions: 77 OVR
  • Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: 71 OVR
  • Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans: 95 OVR
  • J.J. Watt, DE, Arizona Cardinals: 94 OVR
  • Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots: 81 OVR

What does it all mean for Darnold, Wilson and the Jets in the end? The answer’s too obvious to even type.

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Jets camp is nearly here

How the Jets’ offensive line comes together and just how legit Elijah Moore is off the bat will greatly determine how Wilson begins his career. How Mike LaFleur molds his offense around his young but possibly underrated talent is another topic of note.

The same can be said for Darnold in Carolina. Christian McCaffrey’s health looms large, as does its questionable offensive line.

The Madden conversation simply serves as a fun sidebar to an NFL summer that’s running on a familiar schedule. First, it’s training camp, the place where jobs are won (or lost) and livelihoods are earned (or unrealized).

Wilson and the Jets will report this Tuesday with an eye on camp’s first practice a day later (Wednesday). Only then can something legitimate surface when comparing Jets quarterbacks of old and new.

For now, however, it appears like EA Sports agrees with Joe Douglas’s career-defining move this past offseason.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder/Consultant: Elite Sports NY - ESNY. Email: robby.sabo@jetsxfactor.com

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