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Sam Darnold's demeanor boosted Todd Bowles' confidence in the Jets' rookie QB

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold smiles while listening to

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold smiles while listening to a question after a game against the Lions in Detroit on Monday. Credit: AP/Rick Osentoski

Sam Darnold may be young in age, but he’s an old soul.

That’s how Todd Bowles described the Jets' rookie quarterback during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

It’s Darnold’s maturity and even-keeled demeanor that gave Bowles and the rest of the Jets confidence that he would not let throwing a pick-6 on his first NFL pass affect him. Darnold proved them right as he threw two touchdowns, led six scoring drives and helped lead the Jets to a 48-17 win over the Lions Monday night.

“He’s the same guy every day,” Bowles said. “That’s important at the quarterback position for you to be the same guy every day, whether it’s good or bad. Everybody needs to see that from a team standpoint, as well as a coach’s standpoint. You know what you’re getting out of that guy. You trust that type of person when you’re the same guy every day. That’s really the most impressive thing.”

Darnold is only 21 years old and was the youngest Week 1 starting quarterback since the 1970 merger. But Bowles said Darnold’s mental makeup and consistent attitude make him more of a throwback player, and gives him confidence that he will continue to work hard and improve.

“It’s great to see,” Bowles said. “It’s rare more now. It was a little more common back then for whatever reason. It’s a little more rare. It’s exciting to see because he’s got an old soul, but he’s young in age. He understands the game very well. He works at it the right way.

“It’s a bit more comforting knowing that he’s going to go study and do those types of things."

Darnold had few missteps after the interception to open his career. A helmet issue in the second quarter when Darnold couldn’t hear offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates’ play calls led to the Jets burning timeouts but it didn’t hurt them.
“I thought he played well after the first play and he did some good things,” Bowles said. “We had some problems with the headset so we had to call timeout a few times but that was no fault of his. He was having headset issues. I thought he handled himself well.”

D didn’t know plays

Bowles downplayed the Jets’ defensive players’ claims that they worked on the Lions’ formations since July and knew their plays from studying Matthew Stafford’s hand signals. Bowles said they used the extra days of work to prepare and credited the coaches for getting their units ready.

“We didn’t know any audibles. We didn’t know any plays,” he said. “Those guys did a good job following their assignments that the coaches taught them. They were anticipating certain things if they had certain formations. They were in the right position and good position to make those plays. But I don’t think we knew the plays.”

Darron Lee and Jamal Adams indicated that they knew what the Lions were running after combining for three of the five interceptions the Jets had. Lee returned one of his two for a touchdown.

“The coaches did a good job preparing them,” Bowles said. “That was about it. We didn’t know their plays, per se.”

Injury report

The Jets came out of the game relatively unscathed. Bowles said there were no injuries. Bowles said Jermaine Kearse (abdomen) was close to playing Monday and “was making the case to play,” but he decided to hold him out. Marcus Maye (foot) is working out. But Bowles said it’s too early to know if either could make their season debut Sunday against the Dolphins.

Two-minute drill

Rookie linebacker Frankie Luvu, who was signed from the practice squad with starting outside linebacker Josh Martin out with a concussion, recorded three tackles Monday. Two of them were for a loss. “I thought he toned down a lot of mistakes he made in the preseason,” Bowles said. “I was happy with the way he played.” … Lee’s 36-yard interception return for a touchdown snapped the Jets' NFL record of 73 games without a defensive TD. … The five interceptions were their most since picking off the Broncos five times in 1999. … The Jets' 31 points were the most scored in a third quarter since Oct. 29, 1950 when the Rams put up 41 on the Lions.

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