Sam Darnold gets start but Jets QB forecast still ‘cloudy’

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) completed 8 of 11 passes for 62 yards and an interception.Photo Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Darnold: "I feel like I’m going to continue to grow and get better every single day."

Rookie Sam Darnold received the starting nod in Thursday’s preseason game, but the New York Jets are no closer to settling their muddled quarterback situation.

“It’s already been cloudy. It’s never changed. It’s the same,” said head coach Todd Bowles after the Jets dropped a 15-13 decision to the Washington Redskins. “It’ll be a tough choice. We still got two more games to play. … I like all three guys.”

Darnold, who entered training camp at No. 3 on the depth chart behind incumbent Josh McCown and offseason acquisition Teddy Bridgewater, regressed a bit numbers-wise after his much-ballyhooed NFL debut of a week ago.

The No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Darnold was 8 of 11 for 62 yards and an interception on his three possessions when facing Washington’s first-string defense.

Darnold was sacked twice behind an offensive line missing two starts. He was intercepted in the red zone on a fourth-and-1 play, but Bowles absolved Darnold of responsibility on the play.

“He knew he had to get rid of it. It wasn’t open,” said Bowles, per the New York Daily News. “There were four guys over there. There were guys around him. He couldn’t really run. Put that one on our coaching staff and me. The play call should have been different. Put him in a better situation.”

Darnold had better stats in his NFL debut against the Atlanta Falcons, finishing 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. Still, he didn’t view Thursday’s performance as a step back.

“Any game experience is huge,” Darnold told reporters. “It’s well documented, because I only played really 1 3/4 years of college football and 1 1/2 years of high school football. So, every single game that I play is huge. I feel like I’m going to continue to grow and get better every single day.

“That’s what I’m most excited about … to see how much I’m going to be able to grow and get better and build chemistry with the guys in the locker room. I think we have the potential to do really good things.”

Bridgewater, trying to resurrect his career after missing nearly two full seasons following a devastating knee injury with the Minnesota Vikings, continued to do good things with New York.

Building off an impressive preseason debut, Bridgewater was sharp again against Washington, completing 10 of 15 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Bridgewater, who appeared in only one game in the past two seasons, also was sacked twice — and he didn’t mind it one bit.

“It felt great,” said Bridgewater. “Some of those plays I told him, ‘Coach you know I’ll make better decisions than that.’ I know when to throw the ball away. … For me, I just wanted to get hit. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or say as a quarterback, but for me, it’s just continuing to knock down that mental block. Hey, you can do this.

“Some of those plays I could have thrown the ball away or run out of bounds, but I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could take a hit. It was fun. Get up, smile, tell the guys, ‘Hey, that was nothing. Next play.'”

McCown, who played one series in the preseason opener, sat out against Washington, but Bowles did not offer a timetable for evaluating the quarterback competition.

“We’re going to play the best guy,” said Bowles. “I’m not going to sit here and evaluate them second by second every day in the public. I understand what’s happening. … As football coaches, we understand where we are. We’re pleased with where we are.”

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