Namath: ‘It’s going to take time’ before Darnold starts

Joe Namath, shown here before Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, advises the New York Jets to be patient with rookie Sam Darnold.Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath is never one to shy away from talking about the quarterbacks of the New York Jets.

Broadway Joe perhaps has that right given he is the lone quarterback to guide the Jets to a Super Bowl victory.

Namath said the modern-day Jets would be wise to let former USC quarterback Sam Darnold — the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft — learn his way at his own pace before lining up under center.

“Twenty years old and not having seen the animals — the nature of the defenses he’s going to be confronted with — it’s going to take time,” Namath said, per ESPN.

Namath said that Josh McCown and even offseason acquisition Teddy Bridgewater should have the edge in the pecking order over Darnold.

“Josh knows what he’s doing and Teddy Bridgewater was playing well — well — really before he got hurt,” the 74-year-old Namath said. “So between the three of them, you have to figure the (older) guys are ahead. But the future, no doubt, is lying with Darnold if he improves.”

The Jets have posted back-to-back 5-11 seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game following the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

New York’s desire for a top-tier quarterback was on display after the team made a blockbuster pre-draft trade with the Indianapolis Colts to move up three slots to No. 3. It paid a hefty price to do so as the Jets sent the No. 6 pick and a pair of second-round selections (Nos. 37 and 49) this year along with a second-round pick in the 2019 draft to the Colts.

From the team’s perspective, the gamble paid off when Darnold, considered the top quarterback in the draft by NFLDraftScout senior analyst Rob Rang, fell to them at the third spot.

Darnold completed 303 of 480 passes for 4,143 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with the Trojans last season.

The Jets signed quarterback McCown to a one-year, $10 million deal in the offseason.

McCown, who turns 39 in July, is coming off one of his most productive seasons in 2017. He completed 67.3 percent of his passes, threw for a career-high 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions in 13 games before his season ended due to a broken left hand.

Bridgewater has missed nearly two seasons since suffering a devastating knee injury while with the Minnesota Vikings.

The 25-year-old suffered major damage to his knee in the Vikings’ 2016 training camp. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Jets in the offseason.