CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold would not say something dangerous concerning the New York Jets heading into Sunday’s opener at Financial institution of America Stadium, however he made his former crew look dangerous within the Panthers’ 19-14 victory.
The third decide of the 2018 draft threw for 234 yards within the first half, 16 greater than in any first half in his earlier three seasons in New York. That included a 57-yard landing to former Jets receiver Robby Anderson, his favourite goal in 2018-19.
Darnold additionally ran for a 5-yard landing on a quarterback draw late within the first half to present Carolina a 16-0 lead.
Afterward, when requested whether or not it was simply one other recreation as he had been insisting, Darnold smiled and mentioned, “I am not going to lie. Seeing them on the opposite facet, that was slightly totally different for me.”
Requested later whether or not he bought satisfaction from beating the crew that traded him, Darnold deadpanned, “No.”
Carolina coach Matt Rhule mentioned he can be mendacity if he mentioned there weren’t issues about how Darnold was going to react in opposition to his former crew.
“I had lots of issues,” he mentioned. “I used to be anxious to see how he can be when it comes to taking part in the Jets. It appeared like he had enjoyable the entire day. There was not a second the place I mentioned, ‘Hey, relax. Cling in there.’ He was nice.
“For him, this was most likely an actual step ahead.”
Rhule went as far as to say Darnold “performed glorious.”
“He hung within the pocket,” he mentioned. “We weren’t nice up entrance, however he hung in there and moved round, discovered guys down the sector, made key third-down throws, protected the soccer.
“I assumed Sam performed effectively for his first recreation.”
Not one of the Jets had been requested postgame about Darnold and his efficiency.
Accuracy — a difficulty for Darnold in New York, the place he accomplished solely 59.8% of his passes in 38 video games — wasn’t one for him this present day. He accomplished 24 of 35 makes an attempt (68.6%) for 279 yards and a landing.
He had no interceptions, one other subject for him in New York, the place he threw nearly as many picks as he did touchdowns.
Darnold was notably efficient in opposition to the blitz, particularly within the first half. He accomplished 8 of 9 makes an attempt for 94 yards. Final season, his 55.6% completion proportion in opposition to the blitz ranked thirty second amongst 35 certified quarterbacks, in keeping with ESPN Stats & Data analysis.
Darnold’s greatest mistake was a fumble on fourth-and-1 from the New York 4, however that was extra on fullback Giovanni Ricci for working into the ball earlier than Darnold may get it to Christian McCaffrey.
That Darnold’s greatest play went to Anderson ought to come as no shock. Anderson was his favourite goal with the Jets in 2018-19. The 2 teamed for 88 receptions for 11 touchdowns.
The 57-yarder was Darnold’s fourth-longest landing move, and three have gone to Anderson. A 92-yarder in 2019 and a 76-yarder in 2018 had been the opposite two.
It is also no shock that Darnold relied closely on McCaffrey. One of many causes the Panthers felt snug buying and selling for the previous USC star was the idea that he would prosper in his new environment as a result of he can be surrounded by extra playmakers.
Of Carolina’s 153 yards within the first half, McCaffrey had 83 — 32 dashing and 51 receiving. McCaffrey completed with 187 complete yards, 98 dashing on 21 makes an attempt and 89 receiving on 9 catches.
McCaffrey wasn’t shocked in any respect by Darnold’s efficiency and that his quarterback wasn’t overwhelmed by taking part in his former crew.
“Sam, I’ve by no means seen him totally different,” McCaffrey mentioned. “Since OTAs, he is been the identical man. He involves work day by day. A primary-one-in, first-one-out man. We’re simply fortunate to have him.”
Darnold additionally relied on broad receiver DJ Moore, who completed with six catches for 80 yards.
The offensive line additionally protected Darnold effectively, giving up just one sack. Darnold was sacked 98 occasions in three seasons with the Jets.
The crimson zone, nevertheless, stays a difficulty. The Panthers scored just one landing in 4 journeys contained in the 10-yard line.
The true key for Darnold will probably be taking part in effectively in opposition to harder competitors, starting with subsequent week’s recreation in opposition to the New Orleans Saints.
“We’ll have to attend and see how he performs as we transfer ahead,” Rhule mentioned. “My job is to assist him play effectively, to not see if he performs effectively.”
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/32198349/sam-darnold-shows-former-team-leading-carolina-panthers-win-new-york-jets | Sam Darnold reveals up former crew in main Carolina Panthers to win over New York Jets