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Darnold shines in first pro action

By Devontae Jackson

Dayton, OH

East Rutherford, N.J.–The New York Jets have a big decision to make. The competition between Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Darnold to win the team’s starting quarterback job began in earnest on Friday when the Jets took on the Falcons in a preseason game at MetLife Stadium.

While McCown started the game, both Bridgewater and Darnold made good cases to be the starter on Sept. 10 when the Jets open their season against the Lions. 

McCown, the Jets’ Week 1 starter last season, only lasted one series, completing one pass on one attempt for four yards. He was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater, playing in his first game for the Jets after signing for New York this offseason. On his first drive, the former Vikings quarterback gave the Jets a lead with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Crowell.  

Bridgewater stuck around for the rest of the first quarter and into the early part of the second quarter. He finished the game with seven completions on eight attempts, 85 yards, and one touchdown. 

Jets head coach Todd Bowles praised Bridgewater after the game. “I think it’s great for him to get back out on the field, just enjoy himself and have some success early was great for him,” Bowles told reporters. “I know he had a big smile on his face, so I’m just happy for him.”

But the new rookie in town, Sam Darnold, stole the show. Selected No. 3 in the 2018 NFL draft out of USC, Darnold started off slow in the second quarter. He overthrew a pass to Charles Johnson, but he settled in and slowly but surely moved the ball up the field. Just before the end of the first half, Darnold found Johnson in the endzone for a 14-yard touchdown, with the extra point giving New York a 17-0 lead. 

“He looked comfortable,” Bowles said of the rookie quarterback after the game. “He was excited going out.” He also said Darnold “can get better at some things, we can get better at some things as a team.” 

Darnold remained under center for the entire second half and finished the game 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. Action slowed down after the break, as neither team scored, sealing a 17-0 victory for New York. 

Bridgewater had the highest overall quarterback rating of 150.5 at the end of the game. Darnold followed Bridgewater with 103.0, while McCown’s lone completion gave him an 83.3 rating. 

Bowles praised all three quarterbacks, though he has yet to name his starter for Week 1. “I’ll make my decision when it happens,” Bowles said. “I’m not going to jump to conclusions after one game.”