Nania’s Darnold Grades

Sam Darnold Grades

Nania’s Darnold Grades are released during the week following each Jets game (membership required).

2020 Season

2019 Season

Explaining the Darnold Grades

Following the conclusion of the 2019 season, I sat back and wondered to myself, “What has been the best game of Sam Darnold’s career to date?” I started off by nonchalantly scoring each game on a scale of 0-10 off the top of my head. And then it hit me. What if I scored every single play of Darnold’s career on a scale of 0-10?

So that’s what I did. Digging through the All-22 film, I went back and graded every play (pass attempt, sack, rushing attempt) from every one of Darnold’s games, scoring each on a scale of 0-10 (5 representing an average play).

Anything and everything is taken into account. Ball placement. Should-be turnovers. Unlucky turnovers. Protection quality. Play-calling effectiveness. The number of open targets available and their locations on the field relative to the quarterback. Impact of the route-running and ball-tracking by the intended receiver. Down and distance. Field position. Game situation.

Every layer of decision-making is considered. Did Darnold choose the best available option? Did he scan the field to check all possible options? Did he take an over-aggressive shot when a first down was available underneath? Did he check down too early with a potential big play open down the field? Should he have tucked-and-run? Did he take a sack he should not have? Should he have thrown the ball away? Was there absolutely no option available for him to pick up yards, excusing a lack of production?

Simple statistics do not account for any of those factors. Using a manual, play-by-play grading system, many crucial variables that usually go overlooked are being properly valued. Sprinkle in this essential context, and we get a grade that is much more representative of the quarterback’s true performance level than standard box score numbers.

Darnold’s final scores are scaled from 0-to-100, with 50 representing the approximate league average (based on the analysis of other quarterbacks).

Breakdowns of every Sam Darnold performance from 2019-20 can be found at the links above, featuring my overall grade for each game. You will also see:

  • Comparisons between my grade, Darnold’s advanced metrics, and his traditional statistics.
  • Metrics showcasing how well the team supported Darnold (pressure, drops, run game, field position, etc.).
  • Clips of Darnold’s best and worst moments from each game.
  • A synopsis of Darnold’s performance explaining how I arrived at the grade.