On the Roster in 2019
Injured Reserve: Siemian
Practice Squad: Mike White
Not With Team: Falk
Reserve/Future Signing: White
Potential Free Agents in 2020
Unrestricted: Siemian, Fales
Quarterback Sam Darnold's sophomore professional season was eventful to say the least. Darnold missed three games with mono, lost his toenail and sprained his left thumb, which required offseason surgery. Yet he still improved compared to his rookie year. The 2018 No. 3 overall pick upped his completion percentage from 57.7 to 61.9, threw two more touchdowns and two fewer interceptions. His passer rating also spiked from 77.6 to 84.3.
"I feel like I did improve with seeing defenses, recognizing coverages and what kind of pressures they were bringing," he said toward the end of the season. "It was just a little bit easier to see coverages and I think as I continue to play, with experience, I'm going to continue to get better that way."
Trevor Siemian started one game in Darnold's absence in Week 2 against Cleveland,, but his season ended in the second quarter. Browns DE Myles Garrett hit Siemian late and the veteran suffered torn ankle ligaments and was placed on injured reserve. Luke Falk, a Titans 2018 sixth-round pick, came on in relief and started the following two games. Falk threw for 416 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs while completing 64.4% of his passes and was waived Oct. 12.
Darnold's play changed after he met with Coach Adam Gase following the Jets' Week 8 loss to Jaguars. Taking more command in Weeks 9-17, he completed 62% of his passes and threw for 2,207 yards, 14 TDs and 5 INT for a 92.3 rating. The 22-year-old threw for 817 yards, 5 TD and 8 INT in his first four starts in 2019 and had a 66.2 rating.
"I felt comfortable enough with the offense to go in and share my thoughts about it," Darnold said of his meeting with Gase. "I was just sharing my thoughts, what I liked, what I didn't like, and then he did the same thing and we kind of came to a conclusion. It was nice. I was able to get some things off my chest, he was able to get some things off his chest, and I just thought it was a really good meeting and I thought it made us better as a team for sure."
See the Best Images of the Quarterbacks During the 2019 Season
Darnold and Mike White, who spent the season on the practice squad, are the only QBs under contract on the Jets. Darnold will look forward to his third season knowing he will be in the same system for the first time in his professional career.
"Huge difference, huge," Gase said. "It's a big deal when you're going into the spring and you're not learning a bunch of new things. You're trying to get better with more of your technique, fundamentals, the verbiage in the offense and all those types of things. You kind of know those by heart and that's where you can make a lot of strides when you're working on."
Gase added: "When [Darnold] goes back and reviews it, he's going to anticipate he's going to be better than he was this year. Whether it's numbers, wins, however Sam looks at it. He's probably looking at wins because he never even talks about stats. Everybody else is going to look at rating and touchdown passes, interceptions and yards and all those things. I do think he'll look at it as he should make a big jump."
Darnold said he'd like to improve his ball security in 2020 and believes his, and the team's rollercoaster season will be a benefit next year. General manager Joe Douglas was impressed with the mental and psychological toughness his signal-caller showed in 2019.
"I saw unbelievable growth from Sam," Douglas said. "I think he has innate leadership qualities. Guys gravitate towards him and guys respect him for what he's all about as a player and as a person. I'm so excited to get this offseason going, for him to get back with his teammates and really get this offense off the ground and going for 2020."