FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Todd Bowles thinks everyone should slow down on Sam Darnold.
Bowles believes in Darnold and is confident he will continue to get better. But Bowles is not ready to anoint the rookie a superstar or induct him in Canton just yet.
“It’s only been one game,” Bowles said after practice Wednesday. “To sit here and say whether he’s great or whether he’s trash or whether he’s anything else, it’s way too early for that. He’s played one game. He’s got a lot of years to go and he’ll build it as he goes.
“It’s going to take more than a game to say he’s really good.”
Bowles wasn’t trying to kill Jets fans’ buzz. He was just trying to put things in perspective.
The hype machine, which has been running pretty high since the Jets drafted Darnold, was on full blast after Monday night’s 48-17 win in Detroit.
Darnold threw a pick-six on his first pass, but then he settled in to complete 16 of his last 20 attempts for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
It ended up being a terrific performance. Darnold completed 76.2 percent of his passes, led six scoring drives and had a 116.8 rating. But Bowles said to hold off on saying the Jets have their franchise quarterback.
“We won one game,” he said. “I can tell you after about 100 more whether we have one. Right now, it’s too early.”
When a reporter said that the people in that room might not be here in 100 games, Bowles quipped, “That makes all of us.”
If Darnold develops into a franchise quarterback, and quickly, it could help Bowles’ staying power. He will coach his 50th game with the Jets when they play their home opener Sunday against the Dolphins. Bowles is 21-28.
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said Wednesday that he wouldn’t evaluate Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan on the record this season, but on progress. The Jets have a rookie quarterback, so you have to expect bumps before things smooth out.
Darnold is only 21, but he appears to have the talent to be the real deal, and the mental attitude not to let all the attention go to his head. Jets fans are understandably excited, but Darnold's only concern is improving.
“I haven’t been paying that much attention,” Darnold said. “I’m sure people have been talking about how good they expect our team to be in the next few years and all that. I’m just going to continue to focus on the next game. That’s all I can control. That’s how I’m going to be every single week.”
But Darnold is happy to have gotten all of the firsts out of the way – interception, touchdown and victory.
“It’s a nice feeling to be able to get my first win under my belt,” he said. “That’s a really good feeling more than anything. Being able to win a game in the NFL, knowing I could do it. Even though I did know I could do it, it’s just a nice feeling to go out there and execute with my teammates, especially the way that we did.”
It was a big step for Darnold, especially to show the mettle he did after the inauspicious start. Bowles knew Darnold could, but it’s just the beginning.
“He can play the position,” Bowles said. “He’s got to go through some things. Every week will be different for him. He’ll grow at the position. But he’s not green. He’s very sharp. He handles himself very well and I trust him to make adjustments every game.”
Notes & quotes: Darnold on what he could have done differently on the first play Monday: "Not throw it." … WR Jermaine Kearse, slowed by an abdominal injury for a few weeks, was a full participant in practice. He’s trending toward playing Sunday … S Marcus Maye (foot) and LB Josh Martin, who has yet to be cleared from concussion protocol, remained out of practice … LB Neville Hewitt (knee) didn’t practice … The Jets activated LB Kevin Pierre-Louis from the suspended list and waived OL Ben Braden.