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The Sam Darnold Hype Train Has Left the Station


Sam Darnold played well in the New York Jets’ first preseason game. The rookie showed mobility and completed 13 of 18 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. He led a 10-play scoring drive and looked poised while receiving the lion’s share of playing time.

That’s the good news. The future of the long-suffering Jets looks bright. The bad news is that there is a quarterback controversy brewing and expectations have already been ratcheted up to 11.

Here’s today’s New York Daily News’ back page.

Good to see there are going back to Tim Tebow-era material. Nothing like the Second Coming to get people enthused.

And if you think this is just a sports page and not indicative of the hopes and expectations of the fan base, you don’t understand the relationship they have with the franchise.

Here’s the problem. A true Jet-siah should be starting and Darnold is a long way from starting. Josh McCown, the incumbent, completed his only throw for four yards. Teddy Bridgewater, believed to still have something in the tank, was 7-for-8 and 85 yards.

The youngster will be given every opportunity to win the job. His supporters will take every opportunity to say he’s earned it, even if the audition is more a marathon than a sprint. There will be much frustration.

Then there’s what happens if Darnold does win the job. He’ll be expected to do things he’s perhaps incapable of. New York’s line is notoriously slack-free. Best-case scenario: he handles it all perfectly and never shows any growing pains. Real world scenario: every understandable mistake is placed under a microscope and unreasonable deadlines are missed.

Obviously, it’s promising that Darnold played so well last night. It’s just that it may have fast-tracked a difficult and trying situation for all involved. The hype train has officially left the station and now we’re all along for the ride.

Hang on tight.