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Jets QBs Reset: Sam Darnold's 'On Top of It' 

Darnold Is Surrounded by More Talent and Experience in QB Room That Includes Joe Flacco

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Table inside Article
How Signed Returning Jets Newly Arrived Recently Departed
Draft Sam Darnold (2018 1st Rd) James Morgan (2020 4th Rd)
VFAs David Fales (2019), Mike White (2019) Joe Flacco (2020)
UFAs Trevor Siemian (2019 UFA DEN / 2020 VFA Unsigned)
Waivers Luke Falk (2019 Waivers MIA / 2020 Waived)

Cornerstones and Returnees
While David Fales and Mike White are set to return for training camp, Sam Darnold is back for a third NFL season and he is perhaps the franchise's most important cornerstone. Over the Jets' final eight games last season, Darnold led the team to a 6-2 mark while throwing for 13 touchdowns against only four interceptions. His numbers were markedly better in Year 2 in a myriad of categories including yards per attempt (6.1 to 6.4), yards per game (220.4 to 232.6) and INT percentage (3.6 to 2.9). The 23-year-old also led a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks and was credited with three game-winning drives.

"My goal personally is just to be as consistent as possible," said Darnold this spring after hitting on 61.9% of his passes in his second pro season for 3,024 yards. "[Last year] I think I missed some throws I don't usually miss, and I think that just comes with repetition and making sure that I don't miss those throws in-game. I think it's just about getting those reps over and over again and putting myself in uncomfortable positions in the pocket and continuing to work on throws on the run, running and setting up throwing."

Although Darnold will benefit from staying in the same system for the first time, he will arrive at training camp minus a traditional offseason where he would have spent valuable time on the field with his new-look offensive line and skill position newcomers. In addition to participating in the team's virtual program, Darnold trained with QB coach Jordan Palmer back in Southern California and the emerging leader organized workouts for some Jets skill players in June in Florida.

"Sam does a really good job of hitting Dowell [Loggains] and myself up before we really normally would do in the summer. Like the last offseason, he discussed some of the things that he wanted to work on with Jordan," said head coach Adam Gase, who doubles as the team's play-caller. "We kind of gave a couple of things to him and Jordan does a good job of working with him on the things that they want to work on, but at the same time, trying to implement the things that we're teaching as well."

See the Jets QBs in Images Leading Up to the 2020 Season

Comings and Goings
Last season, the Jets became the sixth team in the Super Bowl era (excluding the 1987 strike season) to start three different quarterbacks in their first three games. Trevor Siemian, who took over for the mono-ridden Darnold in Week 2 only to lose his season due to ligament damage in his ankle, and Luke Falk, who started in Weeks 3 & 4, are free agents.

With a retooled offensive line, the Jets hope Darnold can start 16 games for the first time in his career. But they went out and got an insurance policy with the free agent signing of Joe Flacco, a former Super Bowl MVP who has a 98-73 mark as an NFL starter in the regular season and has passed for 40,067 yards.

"I obviously still believe I'm a starting quarterback. You never know what three years down the line is going to look like," said Flacco, who is working his way back following neck surgery. "So I still have that confidence and the want-to to do that. But at this moment, that's not my role. My role is to help the team get better and to help a young quarterback see things as clearly as possible and help him on his journey to being a longtime NFL quarterback."

Before adding Flacco, the Jets drafted a developmental prospect in James Morgan.

"Number one, you need to identify the trait that he can make it in this league," Loggains said of the fourth-round pick from Florida International. "He can play, he has the physical skillset. But then when you put the mental aspect of it and the passion for the game, you know he's going to put the time in."

JetsSpeak
Gase wants Darnold to be an extension of the coaching staff and his teammates have taken note of his assertiveness.

"You can tell he's on top of it," said wideout Breshad Perriman. "He's very specific about his work and his detail. I can't wait, I'm excited."

New Jets OL Connor McGovern said he exchanged texts with Darnold in the offseason and had a couple of FaceTime calls as well. They discussed many things, including getting his cadence down and exchanging thoughts on protections.

"You get a young quarterback back there who's really starting to grow and catching his stride, you're going to win to a lot of football games," McGovern said.

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