FLORHAM PARK Jordan Reed Jersey , N.J. (AP) — Even Broadway Joe thinks the New York Jets might finally have their next franchise quarterback.
Joe Namath met Sam Darnold on the field at MetLife Stadium before the team’s third preseason game and it provided quite the snapshot.
Past meets future — and, maybe, the present.
“I’ve seen Sam perform tonight,” Namath said during the TV broadcast, “better than I’ve seen any rookies I can remember.”
That’s high praise from the only man to quarterback the Jets to a Super Bowl victory.
And that came 50 seasons ago.
The stunning win over the Colts will be celebrated by the team and its fans this year. It’s also a brutal reminder of how long it has been since the Jets were on top of the football world.
Darnold, they hope, can someday end that drought.
“That’s the goal for everyone,” Darnold said a few weeks after being drafted No. 3 overall. “Anything short of that is a failure and we’re aware of that. Everyone is aware of that. Whatever my role is, I’m going to star in that role to work us toward that Super Bowl.”
The former USC star had a solid summer and impressed the coaching staff with his ability to quickly digest the playbook along with his veteran-like presence and approach.
Darnold was given every chance to win the competition that included Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, and he didn’t disappoint. Bridgewater was traded to New Orleans on Wednesday.
“He’s able to take the classroom knowledge and all the stuff he’s studied in the classroom and take it right to the field and execute it,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “We’re throwing a lot of football at him and he’s been able to handle it.”
Darnold could become the 31st quarterback to start a game for the Jets since Namath’s last appearance for the franchise in 1976. That’s a lot of searching and a long time waiting.
There’s big-time hope that Darnold is the answer, and that has the Jets and their fans optimistic about this season — and the future.
“He did everything we’ve asked him to do,” coach Todd Bowles said.
Here are some other things to know as the Jets enter the regular season:
WHOSE LINE IS IT?
While all eyes have been on the quarterbacks, the offensive line will be a major focus — no matter who’s calling the plays in the huddle.
The Jets signed center Spencer Long Trent Williams Jersey , who’s an upgrade over Wesley Johnson, but the rest of the line is back. And, it remains to be seen if that’s a good thing.
Inconsistency and injuries made for a shaky season, and depth this year could be an issue. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum dealt with an ankle injury most of the summer, and right guard Brian Winters was in and out of the lineup with soreness.
“They’ve got to work together,” Bowles said of the line. “They have to be healthy, obviously, but I feel good about them when they are healthy.”
One of the priorities for the Jets during the offseason was to find a pass-rushing presence, particularly at outside linebacker.
No one emerged during training camp, and that could be something general manager Mike Maccagnan tries to address as the season goes along.
Leonard Williams is perhaps New York’s best overall player, but even he had only two sacks last season — although he racked up 28 quarterback hits. He needs help, though, and that means the likes of Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin and Henry Anderson must provide consistent pressure.
An under-the-radar strength might be the Jets’ receiving group Ziggy Hood Jersey , which might lack what some consider a true No. 1 talent but has good playmaking potential.
Robby Anderson had a breakout year in his second season, catching 63 catches for 941 yards and seven TDs while establishing himself as a deep threat. Jermaine Kearse led the Jets with 65 receptions after coming to New York from Seattle. Quincy Enunwa looked solid late in camp as he returned from a neck injury that sidelined him all last season. Terrelle Pryor, still working his way back from two ankle surgeries in the past year, showed flashes this summer of the player who was so promising in Cleveland in 2016.
The Jets’ biggest offseason free-agent addition was cornerback Trumaine Johnson , who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal. They’re hoping he and Morris Claiborne combine to form one of the NFL’s top cornerback combinations.
Add in the safety tandem of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, both coming off solid rookie seasons, and New York’s secondary could be a strength after struggling quite a bit the past few years.
“It’s all (on) what we do with it,” Claiborne said. “We have all the pieces. We just have to find a way to put it together and go get some wins.”
PLAYOFFS OR BUST?
The Jets haven’t been to the postseason since the 2010 season — back when Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez were all the buzz.
Yeah, it’s been a while.
But despite the drought, owner Christopher Johnson hasn’t set a playoff mandate for Bowles and Maccagnan. Johnson wants to see continued progression. The feeling is that the franchise is building toward next season, when the team has more than $100 million in cap space and could really make a playoff push.
Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Tom Brady's pass and also recovered a fumble Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Not good enough, if you ask the Houston Texans safety.
"Yeah, I touched the leather DeShone Kizer Jersey , but I didn't touch the end zone," Mathieu said after the 27-20 loss in the opener. "We lost by seven points, so that's how I look at it and how I judge myself."
A free agent who signed with the Texans after spending the first five years of his career in Arizona, Mathieu was Houston's biggest offseason acquisition. The signing seemed to pay off in his very first game.
Brady dropped back near his own goal line and took aim for running back James White across the middle. But defensive lineman Angelo Blackson deflected the ball, and Mathieu reached behind him to grab it as he went to the turf.
"That's why we brought him here," coach Bill O'Brien said. "We think he's an instinctive player, from what I can see."
Blackson said he anticipated that Brady would try to step up in the pocket and throw, so the goal was to get a hand in his face. The ball went off Blackson's hand and fluttered downward before Mathieu grabbed it at the 17.
But the Texans missed a chance to take advantage of the field position, losing seven yards before settling for a field goal that cut the deficit to 7-3. In the third quarter, Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 25-yard reception before the Patriots tight end was hit by Kareem Jackson and lost the ball.
Mathieu scooped it up. The Texans advanced to the New England 17 but turned the ball over on downs.
"He's a great player," defensive lineman J.J. Watt said. "We knew we were getting a great player and a guy that can change games and he did a great job today. With the pick, the fumble recovery, that's another guy that can make game-changing plays and the more we can of that, and the more we can all start to do our part in that Youth Fabian Moreau Jersey , the better we're going to be."
A year after losing to the Patriots 36-33, O'Brien returned to New England with a healthy team that had hopes of beating his former mentor.
Watt returned after playing only five games last season because of a broken leg, and Whitney Mercilus also returned from a torn pectoral muscle that put him on injured reserve in 2017.
With Jadeveon Clowney recovering from knee surgery following the best season of his career and Mathieu joining the secondary, the Texans' defense was a strong point.
And with Deshaun Watson (176 yards passing, 40 running) also returning from an injury after a stellar start to his rookie year, the offense figured to be dangerous, too.
But Brady and Gronkowski carved up the Texans at the worst times, including a two-minute drill at the end of the first half after taking over at their own 22 with just 88 seconds on the clock. Brady completed 5 of 6 passes on the drive, hitting Phillip Dorsett on a 4-yard touchdown pass that extended the New England lead to 21-6.
"To give up that touchdown, it is very frustrating," Clowney said. "I am very upset right now. I hate losing and I hate playing bad and all of that. I know I've got a lot of season left and a lot of improvement to do."
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