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Sam Darnold jokes about his time behind inept NY Jets OL

Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold joked about the New York Jets offensive line.
Sam Darnold, NY Jets, Carolina Panthers, Getty Images

Sam Darnold pokes fun at his former team

After sitting out of the Carolina Panthers’ preseason-opening loss to the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Sam Darnold was asked about the importance of getting hit in the preseason.

He took the opportunity to joke about his tumultuous tenure with the New York Jets.

“Obviously, I have experience with (getting hit) in the past, the last few years,” Darnold said, per The Athletic’s Joe Person.

Darnold was sacked 98 times throughout his three-year tenure with the Jets, ranking as the eighth-highest sack total absorbed among quarterbacks over that span.

The Jets struggled to put a strong offensive line in front of Darnold. As a team, New York ranked 22nd in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking grade in 2018, 28th in 2019, and 31st in 2020.

It remains to be seen whether Darnold will be protected much better in Charlotte than he was in East Rutherford.

Darnold’s projected wall of Cameron Erving (LT), Pat Elflein (LG), Matt Paradis (C), John Miller (RG), and Taylor Moton (RT) is comparable on paper to his 2020 opening-week unit of Mekhi Becton (LT), Alex Lewis (LG), Connor McGovern (C), Greg Van Roten (RG), and George Fant (RT).

Pat Elflein is slated to start as Darnold’s left guard after he was one of the worst linemen to play in front of Darnold with the Jets last season. Elflein’s 30.5 pass-blocking grade at PFF was better than only Josh Andrews among the nine offensive linemen to appear in a game for New York.

Projected starters Cameron Erving, Matt Paradis, and John Miller have also performed poorly over the last two seasons.

Carolina’s only saving grace is right tackle Taylor Moton, a young star with a fresh $72 million deal that properly compensates him for developing into one of the best right tackles in the league.

Darnold has a lot going for him with the Panthers. The positives include a bright offensive coordinator in Joe Brady and a solid group of skill position players featuring D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey, Dan Arnold, and old friend Robby Anderson.

In the end, however, it’ll come down to the big heavies up front. The line in front of him in 2021 remains just as much of a concern as it was in New York.

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