Darnold Grades: 2019 Week 6 vs. Cowboys

Sam Darnold
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

This is a free sneak-peek sample into Michael Nania’s series of Sam Darnold grades. To view grades for all of Darnold’s games, subscribe to Jets X-Factor here.

How well did Sam Darnold perform against the Cowboys in Week 6?

Here is a glossary of my personally-created statistics, as well as some context to help you understand what good and bad numbers look like.

Overall grade: 0-to-100 grade based on the average score of all plays analyzed. (Average: 50, Max: 100, Minimum: 0)

Adjusted grade: Overall grade adjusted based on the quality of the opponent defense (according to DVOA), with a slight bonus added for road games.

Plays: Number of plays graded.

Positive plays: Number of plays graded above 5.0: above-average efforts. (Average: 52%, Phenomenal: >60%, Awful: <40%)

Negative plays: Number of plays graded below 5.0: below-average efforts. (Average: 29%, Phenomenal: <20%, Awful: >40%)

Positive/negative ratio: Positive plays divided by negative plays: a measure of consistency. (Average: 1.75, Phenomenal: 3.00+, Awful: <1.00)

Average positive: The average score of all positive plays. An indicator of how high the quarterback’s peaks were — a higher score indicates a great rate of splash plays, a lower score indicates a combination of few impressive plays, many easy throws, and teammates bailing out the quarterback. (Average: 5.90, Phenomenal: 6.00+, Awful: <5.80)

Average negative: The average score of all negative plays. An indicator of how low the quarterback’s valleys were — a higher score indicates few catastrophic mistakes/lost plays tending to fall more on supporting cast, a lower score indicates that mistakes were generally very bad and that lost plays tended to be largely the quarterback’s fault. (Average: 3.80, Phenomenal: 4.00+, Awful: <3.60)

Wow Factor: Combination of average positive and average negative. An indicator of the ability to both avoid big mistakes and produce impressive moments. (Average: 9.75, Phenomenal: 10.0+, Awful: <9.5)

7+ plays: Number of plays graded 7 or better: elite moments. (Average: 8%, Phenomenal: >12%, Awful: <4%)

≤3 plays: Number of plays graded 3 or worse: brutal moments. (Average: 8%, Phenomenal: <4%, Awful: >12%)

Let’s take a look at how my evaluation of Darnold’s performance against the Cowboys compares to his advanced and traditional statistics.

NANIA TRACKING

Overall Grade: 74.8

Season rank: 1st of 13
Career rank: 1st of 26

Adjusted grade: 74.4

Season rank: 2nd of 13
Career rank: 2nd of 26

(Rank among Darnold’s 13 games in 2019)

Plays: 38 (7th)
Positive plays: 20 (5th)
Negative plays: 8 (3rd)
Positive/negative ratio: 2.50 (3rd)

Positive %: 52.6 (5th)
Negative %: 21.1 (3rd)

Average positive: 6.20 (2nd)
Average negative: 4.25 (1st)
Wow Factor: 10.45 (2nd)

7+ plays: 5 (13.2% – 3rd)
≤3 plays: 0 (0.0% – 1st)

ADVANCED STATS

ESPN QBR: 70.4
Season rank: 10th of 13
Week 6 rank: 9th of 28

PFF Grade: 74.5
Season rank: 4th of 13
Week 6 rank: 11th of 28

Adjusted completion percentage (accounts for drops, throwaways, etc, league average ~75%): 80.0%
Season rank: 4th of 13
Week 6 rank: 11th of 28

BOX SCORE STATS

23/32 (71.9%), 338 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception. 2 sacks for 12 yards.

Passer rating: 113.8
Season rank: 3rd of 13
Week 6 rank: 5th of 28

Passing yards: 338
Season rank: 1st of 13
Week 6 rank: 4th of 28

Yards per attempt: 10.6
Season rank: 2nd of 13
Week 6 rank: 2nd of 28

SUPPORT

Percentage of dropbacks under pressure (league average ~35%): 28.6%
Season rank: 2nd of 13
Week 6 rank: 12th of 28

Average starting field position: Own 22 (24th of 28 in W6)

Teammate yards per rush attempt: 3.7

Drops, throwaways, batted passes: 1, 2, 0

BEST PLAYS

(Q1, 14:56, NYJ 0, DAL 0. 1ST & 10 AT NYJ 18) Darnold takes advantage of a clean pocket to connect with Demaryius Thomas on the deep over route, hitting him right between the numbers under tight coverage. The Jets immediately feel the impact of their franchise quarterback on his first play back in action.

(Q1, 9:18, NYJ 0, DAL 0. 3RD & 4 AT NYJ 45) Darnold lofts the ball with near-perfect touch to hit Jamison Crowder for a 24-yard third down pickup. While a hair underthrown, it remains a substantially above average throw. Tough angle, tight coverage, lands in the breadbasket.

(Q2, 3:46, NYJ 7, DAL 3. 1ST & 10 AT NYJ 8) Darnold steps up to evade DeMarcus Lawrence, who gets by Chuma Edoga. Without having time to properly set, as more pressure is allowed by Ryan Griffin, Darnold flicks the ball 47 yards downfield with enough depth and touch to get it by the safety. Robby Anderson grabs it in perfect stride. 22 years and 130 days old at the time of this play, Darnold became the youngest QB in the Super Bowl era to record a 90+ yard completion.

(Q3, 6:57, NYJ 21, DAL 9. 2ND & 10 AT NYJ 25) Darnold slides outside to evade the interior pressure, and then shifts back inside to evade the edge pressure (Kelvin Beachum and Alex Lewis the culprits). He resets, plants, and fires to hit Jamison Crowder in perfect stride on the deep over.

(Q4, 6:21, NYJ 21, DAL 16. 1ST & 10 AT NYJ 23) Darnold steps up to get the linebacker to sink down, then combines velocity and touch to get it over him and find Jamison Crowder for a 30-yard pickup.

(Q4, 5:01, NYJ 21, DAL 16. 2ND & 7 AT DAL 44) Darnold notices Robby Anderson has ample room to the sideline, and takes advantage with beautiful back-shoulder placement. Good awareness as he steps up to avoid the unblocked pressure coming from the right edge.

WORST PLAYS

(Q3, 2:40, NYJ 21, DAL 9. 3RD & 5 AT DAL 11) Darnold and Jamison Crowder have a miscommunication that leads to an interception. It appears Darnold expected Crowder to run a short curl/stop route and come back to the ball, but Crowder broke to the inside. Ryan Griffin was much more open for a first down on the left side.

SUMMARY

Darnold’s performance against the Cowboys was his best of 2019 and is right up there with the 2018 Texans game in the conversation for the best of his career. He looked extremely comfortable in the offense, getting the ball out quickly, subtly navigating the pocket to elude pressure, constantly making the best available decision, and throwing with sublime accuracy in the intermediate and deep ranges. He did not make a single egregious mistake (the interception was untimely, but it cannot be pinned entirely on Darnold). Elite stuff all-around, rejuvenating an offense that averaged 3.3 points per game without him. Although Darnold’s QBR, PFF grade, and traditional stats all painted his performance in a positive light, they still underrated him. He was top-notch. My 74.8 grade for Darnold in this game ranks at the 91st percentile among all of the quarterbacking performances (including other players) that I have analyzed.

Questions/comments regarding the Darnold Grades? E-mail me at [email protected], or DM me on Twitter @Michael_Nania.

This was a free sneak-peek sample into Michael Nania’s series of Sam Darnold grades. To view grades for all of Darnold’s games, subscribe to Jets X-Factor here.

All 2019 Darnold Grades