FLORHAM PARK, N.J.— Remember Sunday? Jets 27, Bills 23? Big plays by the rookie quarterback? Smiles all around?
Fun, no doubt, while it lasted. But Sam Darnold is smart enough to know that NFL history is full of quarterbacks who succeeded in bursts and failed in the long term.
Hence, his word of the day for Tuesday — and for the rest of the season.
“Consistency is the biggest thing for me moving forward, just bringing the same energy, the same tempo that we had, getting in and out of the huddle,” he said after practice. “I think doing that day in and day out every single game is going to be kind of the next step for me.”
The subject came up again later in his session with reporters, when he agreed that the last three games of 2018 will be a crucial springboard into 2019 for the team, and its quarterback. It begins Saturday against the Texans.
“I think it’s huge trying to get as much momentum as we can going into next season,” he said. “I think it will be good for this team and really awesome for us to build off a good end of the season. For me, I think it’s just staying consistent. I mean, that’s the biggest word for me these next few games.”
Darnold was able to practice fully despite a sore foot, saying that he felt “great” moving around in the pocket, dropping back and even sprinting.
That is particularly good news given that the Texans feature a pair of elite pass rushers in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
Darnold said pocket awareness, an area in which there still is “a lot of room to grow” will be pivotal in staying upright and safe.
“You can feel in a pocket when you’re a quarterback with guys like J.J. Watt and Clowney rushing you, you kind of have a feeling of, OK, I might need to get this ball out a little quicker,” he said.
It is part of the process. Everything is part of the process. He said he felt as if he handled the Buffalo cold well on Sunday, answering a persistent question for a player who grew up and played college football in southern California.
Another item on Darnold’s to-do list is cutting down on interceptions. He leads the NFL with 15 despite missing three games, but insisted he will not shy away from risks.
“If I throw an interception I’m definitely going to be [ticked] off about it for a little bit,” he said, “but at the same time move on and if a play’s there and I see it’s there I’m going to rip it again. I’m not going to flinch about it.”
This time next month, in effect it already will be next season. Sunday’s game in Buffalo only made Darnold, and Jets fans, more eager to see what it will bring.
“I always say that I’m taking it one day at a time, and I think that’s definitely true,” he said. “But at the same time I think about where I’m going to be at a year or two from now, and I’m really excited about where I can go from here and I’m just really optimistic about the future and what it holds.”