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Why do you think Sam Darnold hasn’t been good in the NFL


NYJets43
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1 hour ago, jmat321 said:

I think it harps back to USC and the types of QBs that come out of there.  Typically, they are 1-2 year starters in HS, start 1-2 yrs at SC and leave way too early.  They aren’t mentally prepared for the NFL. The one exception was Palmer.  3 year started in HS, 5 years at SC, then a successful pro career.

The one thing that USC will always produce, in addition to QBs that look good (because they come from where the QB coaches are), are RBs and WRs.   USC has also historically produced great OL.

So if you can throw the ball up to a USC WR and handoff to a USC RB, with good college blocking, you will likely look pretty decent.  

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25 minutes ago, Snell41 said:

 


Was Zach good at BYU? Good enough to warrant the 2 overall? If the answer is yes then Sam absolutely was.


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I don't think his wonder year was enough to warrant #2 overall. However, it showed that, like Darnold, has potential to become a really good QB. It just depends on what he does with it.

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39 minutes ago, Hex said:

That's a good point. I guess his flaws at USC weren't obvious until they were magnified in the NFL.

It just seems to me that the NFL desperately needs a minor league system where players can not only be called up, but can be developed.  It is getting to the point that if you don't have a top 5 / 10 QB in the league, you are not winning.  

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27 minutes ago, varjet said:

The one thing that USC will always produce, in addition to QBs that look good (because they come from where the QB coaches are), are RBs and WRs.   USC has also historically produced great OL.

So if you can throw the ball up to a USC WR and handoff to a USC RB, with good college blocking, you will likely look pretty decent.  

Show me college QB's who can play in a pro-style system not surrounded by an all-star cast every game.  Something tells me those guys might make better prospects.  Then again, I don't know sh*t, so......

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It just seems to me that the NFL desperately needs a minor league system where players can not only be called up, but can be developed.  It is getting to the point that if you don't have a top 5 / 10 QB in the league, you are not winning.  


A minor league system would probably be a good idea. Even just 6 games in this time period (Feb-Mar) but before the draft so you can really evaluate and develop players under 25.


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I don't think his wonder year was enough to warrant #2 overall. However, it showed that, like Darnold, has potential to become a really good QB. It just depends on what he does with it.


Yeah that’s my point. When you come to the realization that there are not 32 men on earth that can play QB at an elite level, the have nots will continue to do desperate things trying to find one. I think teams are taking a step back in the cerebral dept of being a QB and favoring measurables like athleticism and off platform ability because they realize 99% of these kids don’t have a chance at the cerebral game as rookies, and sitting a prospect just is not an option anymore. They’re dumbing down the game and hoping that the athleticism gives them the ability to succeed at “street ball” football running around looking for a broken play opportunity. But the bottom line is a QB must have the cerebral part of the game to truly be a long term high level QB in this league. I think if Zach Wilson went to a team where he could sit for 2 or 3 years to observe and learn the strategies and cerebral parts of the NFL he could be successful. I don’t believe being on the field really helps a QB learn the cerebral aspects if they’re not having a modicum of success overall. When they’re struggling as mightily as Zach has been (and Sam before him) the frustration and stress makes it difficult to see the forest through the trees.


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Amazing how people are still using the flashes argument with Sam. Kid fumbled 20 times and threw 22 interceptions in 27 college games. Has 4 years of nfl tape with him missing time, missing receivers deep, turning the ball over anytime his receivers aren’t wide open, getting crushed by any amount of pressure or pre snap confusion from the defense. But people still hit us with “hey look at this throw or look at this game where he didn’t throw a td pass in year 4.” He’s not even polarizing if you just look at the body of work over six years and not that one throw he looked good rolling out left. 

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15 hours ago, NYJets43 said:

The Panthers are now looking to bring in Ben McAdoo to see if he can fix Sam Darnold. 
 

A lot of people (myself included) really thought Darnold would be good. Why do you think he ultimately hasn’t? What qualities does he lack?

He got a $20,000,000 payday (signing bonus) and while he really likes football and hanging around with the guys, football is not and has never been his passion. So, he's not hunkered down in his basement in the offseason watching film and doing everything in his power to succeed because he succeeded already. He need look no further than his $20,000,000 payday as confirmation. Oh, he'll get together with Jordan Palmer and do some drills between hanging out with Jordan, Josh Allen and whoever else might be around, but as always he's just going through the motions ---  which works fine in High School and College when you are an elite athlete, but it doesn't work in the pros.

BTW, might Sam go to work now to save his NFL career as a starting QB? Well, the more than $49,000,000 in career earnings he will have by the end of next season makes me think not.

Please do not interpret this as me being negative about Sam. I'm not. He's just human. Like almost everyone else. Successful NFL QBs are just not wired like the rest of us. 

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7 hours ago, Charlie Brown said:

Excellent analysis!

Thank you!

You doing alright?

Thanks, I'm doing good.  How are you?  

6 hours ago, docdhc said:

Great read, thanks for the work of putting that together. What do you think of his accuracy?  That seems to be a big issue with him. Ball placement in the NFL is so important not only in completing the pass but also in leading to yards after the catch. The tighter windows and more equal talent levels between DBs and WRs compared to college have been too much for him to handle. 

Thanks.

I think it all stems from his lack of progression reads.  

Give him a clean pocket and he understands the reads, his accuracy is fine and his ball placement is very good.  Essentially, if you tell him that this is first option and he gets a clean pocket, then he will very good.  Therefore he's a game plan stud, partially the reason why we looked so good on opening drives with Gase because everything was pre-schemed.  

The issue starts when teams adjust with fake shells, where he can't make the read (I think Goff had the same issue in the SB with Pats) because then he doesn't adjust well.  He will look for his first read, but if that is taken, his feet become very sloppy.  He doesn't move from one read to another smoothly, but rather moves his upper body disproportionately to his legs.  If you watch someone like Brady, you'll see that he will move his hips with his reads, so if he sees an opening, he's already in position to throw.  

I'm going to put the Brady video from the Eagles (because they lost lol) but just watch his legs and hips, forget the results and throws.  There's synchronization to his reads, he's not bouncing around.  Read one, hip pointed towards read, moving head to read two, his hips are moving with him.  Essentially he's operating as if his second read is open even before he makes the read.

Darnold on the other hand, is much more unstable with his legs.  So when he moves on from the first read, he's not usually in optimal position to throw.  He looks for the read first, but then has to throw off-platform because his feet aren't ready, or get his feet set.  The latter isn't much of an issue in college, but those windows close quickly in the NFL.  So as he starts to struggle, he'll try to make those throws quicker by trying to throw it off balance (same issue with Wilson) to make up for it.  Once he's off-balance, his accuracy is now off like any QB.  Instead of ball placement, it's just in the general vicinity of the receiver.  

It's that lack of ability of making secondary reads, that leads to panicking, which leads to accuracy.  If he could read defenses, he wouldn't panic quite as much, and he could be a good QB.  

Another part of the problem is the type of offenses run in college, which are predicated more and more on RPOs.  In a basic spread RPO, it's a numbers game.  You have one unblocked lineman or linebacker, and the QB reads him.  If defender does X, do 1, if defender does Y, do 2.  Therefore, your initial read is actually just at the line of scrimmage, you aren't reading coverage changes, you don't look at the safeties change positions.  You are reading the line of scrimmage.  Once you come out of the RPO situation, where it's a passing option, you have pre-determined reads.  If the safety is playing off, the RPO should hold the LBs enough that this mesh route is going to be wide open.  If you have press man cover with only a single high safety, auto alert to a sideline go or back shoulder route.   The advantage of the RPO in numbers (one defender you aren't using a blocker) is that now everything is even and it's about winning one on one match ups.  The disadvantage in terms of QB development is that because that defender is unblocked, you don't have much time in the pocket.  Either you make that first read, or you start evading in the pocket first to get some space.  This is partially why you'll see these QBs start backpedaling or running around more often these days because their first read is at the line of scrimmage, and after their first pass read, it's about finding space in the pocket.  You don't see the old school QB style of pocket integrity, moving up in the pocket styles because the unblocked defender in an RPO means you can no longer have pocket integrity, as there is that guy running free.  

Unfortunatlely, unless you are a Lamar Jackson type athlete, that level of mobility doesn't transfer in the NFL.  A guy like Darnold/Wilson/Baker can evade the defender in college, but they get sacked in the NFL.  So now you have to transition from reading the line of scrimmage to making reads down the field first in the NFL, and understanding the nuances of those defensive shell changes.  Not every play in college is obviously an RPO but it tends to create bad habits.  

For example, I'm going to post the pick 6 from Darnold to Ohio State:

This is an RPO where pre-snap he sees the safety play well off the first slot receiver.  The unblocked defender is the outside linebacker, and that is who Darnold is reading.  Honestly, it didn't matter on this play because the left guard got absolutely blown up, so the running back was going to get killed anyway.  However, Darnold is just reading the unblocked defender when the play starts.  Notice at the exact same time, the safety is closing the passing lane for the first slot receiver.  He's essentially banking on the hot route here to that receiver.  If this isn't an RPO, Darnold could see the safety close in and understand the ramifications.  However, he's looking right at the linebacker because he needs to make the RPO read first, and can't see the safety.  Once the RPO read is done, he's going to his pre-snap read of the slot defender (because the unblocked linebacker is going to turn around and aim for the QB otherwise) and basically just throws the pass.  He's not making a read here, this is a pre-determined throw that is only reading the RPO.   

This is exactly what he struggles with in the NFL.  When the pre-snap read is vastly different to the post-snap defense, he panics too quickly, and then his mechanics get all out of order.  I'm going to blame it partially on the prevalence of RPO offenses in college, but it's also telling that he didn't adjust.  That's the aspect that is hard to predict because you can't tell if a QB will be able to adjust to downfield reads after coming to the NFL.  Almost all QBs like Lawrence/Lance/Wilson/Fields come from the RPO offense, so they need time to adjust. 

Just last year, who were the QBs that didn't play in RPO as much?  Mac Jones and David Mills because neither were considered especially mobile.  They were both more pocket passers than mobile passers, which meant they weren't running RPOs quite as much.  They made easier transitions than all 4 guys ahead of them with better talent because they are much more used to actually reading defenses at the snap, rather than reading linemen at the snap.  They see the shell changes, they see the safeties move and can understand what that means for a defense.  They are already used to making reads as they drop back in the pocket more often than the other guys, thus when they get to the NFL, they are better prepared.   This makes for an easier transition, but their limited athletic ability means they were drafted lower.  If Lawrence/Wilson/Lance/Fields make that adjustment (and it should be pretty apparent early next year if they will) then they will be better than Jones/Mills.  Darnold never made that adjustment, because to him, that secondary read is made in panic. 

If he ever does make that adjustment, he will be a good QB because the tools are there.  

 

6 hours ago, Dunnie said:

Presnap he doesnt seem to get it either .. nice writeup

.... Richard Todd, Ken OBrien, Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Genope, Sam Darnold ...

 

 

Thanks.

Yeah, he's just not a good at making reads and panics too much.  I thought Pennington actually was very good at it, but just didn't have the arm strength.  

 

4 hours ago, NYJets43 said:

This is a terrific write up.

Darnold is just a fascinating case study, because you see games in which he looks really good in. 
 

In 2019 he played one of his best games against the Cowboys and then the next week looked like the worst QB I have ever seen vs the Pats. 
 

 

Thanks. 

I kinda broke it down a bit in one of the replies above, but yeah he has the talent to be a very good QB in this league.   If someone else could get into his helmet and tell him the reads, I think he could be good.  However, as long as he keeps panicking in the pocket, he'll be who we know him to be,  

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1 hour ago, Snell41 said:

 


Yeah that’s my point. When you come to the realization that there are not 32 men on earth that can play QB at an elite level, the have nots will continue to do desperate things trying to find one. I think teams are taking a step back in the cerebral dept of being a QB and favoring measurables like athleticism and off platform ability because they realize 99% of these kids don’t have a chance at the cerebral game as rookies, and sitting a prospect just is not an option anymore. They’re dumbing down the game and hoping that the athleticism gives them the ability to succeed at “street ball” football running around looking for a broken play opportunity. But the bottom line is a QB must have the cerebral part of the game to truly be a long term high level QB in this league. I think if Zach Wilson went to a team where he could sit for 2 or 3 years to observe and learn the strategies and cerebral parts of the NFL he could be successful. I don’t believe being on the field really helps a QB learn the cerebral aspects if they’re not having a modicum of success overall. When they’re struggling as mightily as Zach has been (and Sam before him) the frustration and stress makes it difficult to see the forest through the trees.


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It's like you see an entirely different player and have a filter that edits out anything good in regards to Zach. I don't get your hate.

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2 hours ago, RSJ said:

Sam seems like a nice guy. But it doesnt seem like the elevator goes all the way to the top floor.

There we go again!  Was waiting for someone to say this.  I'd rather have a total d**k who is good at football than a nice guy who sucks at football.  In fact, most great QB's are total d**ks and not "nice guys".  

Being nice is a mark against Darnold.  Not something to be proud of.  He's a soft boogie boarding b**tch, and I really don't care if people thinks that's me being a meanie by saying it.  He's set to make $18.9 million dollars next year, fully guaranteed.  I'm sure he'll be just fine.

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2 hours ago, Snell41 said:

Was Zach good at BYU? Good enough to warrant the 2 overall? If the answer is yes then Sam absolutely was.

Zach was better in college than Darnold was.  Still doesn't say much though, given the level of competition Wilson played, and how bad Darnold was in his final year at USC.  But yes, even when factoring that in, Wilson was the better prospect.  

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I think Sam can be a competent starter in the NFL and with the Panthers except for a few bad performances that stuck out he also had competent games the problem again was injuries. If I were Carolina I would bring him back but sign or trade for someone like a Nick Foles who could compete with him. 

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2 hours ago, CanadaSteve said:

Show me college QB's who can play in a pro-style system not surrounded by an all-star cast every game.  Something tells me those guys might make better prospects.  Then again, I don't know sh*t, so......

Did Oregon play a Pro-Style offense when Herbert was there?  Because if so, I'd say he qualifies.  His top receivers at Oregon in 2019 were Johnny Johnson III (projects to be a Kenny Stills type of receiver in the pros), Jaylon Redd (5-9 slot receiver) and Juwan Johnson (2020 UDFA).  

In 2017 & 2018, his top receiver was future 7th round pick Dillon Mitchell.

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1 hour ago, nickfoshizal said:

Amazing how people are still using the flashes argument with Sam. Kid fumbled 20 times and threw 22 interceptions in 27 college games. Has 4 years of nfl tape with him missing time, missing receivers deep, turning the ball over anytime his receivers aren’t wide open, getting crushed by any amount of pressure or pre snap confusion from the defense. But people still hit us with “hey look at this throw or look at this game where he didn’t throw a td pass in year 4.” He’s not even polarizing if you just look at the body of work over six years and not that one throw he looked good rolling out left. 

Yep.  The "flashes" argument is tiresome.  Guess who also had "flashes" in the pros:

 

 

 

Let me guess.  The Darnold apologists would respond to the above by saying "Yeah, well a highlight video can make ANYONE look good".  Yeah, that's the point.  

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20 minutes ago, Rangers9 said:

I think Sam can be a competent starter in the NFL and with the Panthers except for a few bad performances that stuck out he also had competent games the problem again was injuries. If I were Carolina I would bring him back but sign or trade for someone like a Nick Foles who could compete with him. 

In 7 of his 12 games last year in Carolina, he failed to break a 70+ QB Rating.  In 8 of his 12 games, he failed to break 6 Yards per Attempt. 

And that was with a pretty competent team and very good offensive supporting cast around him, even when CMC was hurt.  And when CMC was healthy, the offense still averaged less than 20 points per game, so its not like Darnold was lighting up the league whenever CMC was back there.

You can't bat in the .333 - .400 range as a QB in the pros and expect to be called a "competent starter".  Saying Darnold was "good except for his bad games" is kind of like saying "Stalin was a pretty good leader except for all the dead bodies he left behind."

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1 hour ago, Jetsfan80 said:

In 7 of his 12 games last year, he failed to break a 70+ QB Rating.  In 8 of his 12 games, he failed to break 6 Yards per Attempt.  

You can't bat in the .333 - .400 range as a QB in the pros and expect to be called a "competent starter".  Saying Darnold was "good except for his bad games" is kind of like saying "Staling was a pretty good leader except for all the dead bodies he left behind."

You're right he hasn't earned the starting job for 2022 but imo he should be a contender for the spot. I still remember those long hookups to Robby so you know he is capable of throwing the long ball. Like with Zach he has to do a better job adapting to the short pass and running game plus they will have a new OC there. 

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These big school QBs are surrounded by NFL talent mostly playing teams with no NFL talent. It's hard to evaluate how a player will do in a league with parity when they play very few games against equally talented teams and offenses are built to give the QB easy reads and take advantage of mismatches. Waiting for a play to break down and then chuck it up to a wide open receiver isn't an NFL experience too often. They are more often strikes than home runs. A lot of these can't miss future franchise QBs are big school QBs with a good last performance of college hyped to death by their agent until people get worked up into a frenzy. That's exactly what Darnold is and was. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Rangers9 said:

You're right he hasn't earned the starting job for 2022 but imo he should be a contender for the spot. I still remember those long hookups to Robby so you know he is capable of throwing the long ball. Like with Zach he has to do a better job adapting to the short pass and running game plus they will have a new OC there. 

 

He really isn't.  And this season proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.  He was reunited with Anderson, who caught just 53 passes on 110 targets (48.9 % catch rate) for 519 yards.  Juxtapose that to his numbers with Teddy Bridgewater in 2020:  95 catches on 136 targets (69.9 % catch rate), 1,096 yards. 

His TD's went up (5 vs. 3 in 2020), but in every other metric, Anderson did better with a relatively weak-armed and perfectly average QB in Bridgewater.  

Darnold isn't a good deep ball thrower and never has been.

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9 hours ago, Charlie Brown said:

Sam Darnold was a fundamentally flawed college QB who needed to be drafted by a team that had a long term plan to develop him and who understood that he SHOULDN’T have started right away and that had quality players around him; unfortunately he was drafted by the Jets had none of these….. 
 

Hence Darnold never sat as he ahould have and was never developed organizationally so he isn’t very good at the day now. 
 

You are what your record says you are we have been told and this case Darnold’s film overall doesn’t lie, Darnold isn’t a very good NFL QB right now and it is more than likely he never will be. 

Darnold was for sure a guy who would have been better off sitting a year, at least.

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8 hours ago, Jetsfan80 said:

https://nypost.com/2018/04/17/one-draft-qb-spared-in-scouts-scathing-draft-take-cow-on-ice/

“Darnold, he’s like a cow on ice,’’ Shonka said. “His footwork is all over the place. His feet in the pocket are embarrassing. When you turn the ball over [35 times] in 26 games, you’re intellectually dishonest when you’re talking about bringing in Sam Darnold as your next savior. This guy opens his hands over the ball, it just drops out when he’s in the pocket. If you look at his film, they talk about his accuracy. Actually it’s his receivers making great catches for him, laying out for the ball or going high. I’m not saying he’s never going to be a quarterback, but right now he’s a long way away.’’

Wow.

quite the accurate analysis.

Zach’s got good feet by the way!

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It's like you see an entirely different player and have a filter that edits out anything good in regards to Zach. I don't get your hate.


I’m sorry, short of a strong arm I really don’t see anything about him that makes me excited. He has a small frame that negates much of his athleticism, and he just doesn’t have the mental game anywhere close to good enough. He’s shown nothing at all that makes me think he’s going to be a regular top 5-10 QB in the league.


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6 hours ago, Jetsfan80 said:

Yep.  The "flashes" argument is tiresome.  Guess who also had "flashes" in the pros:

 

 

 

Let me guess.  The Darnold apologists would respond to the above by saying "Yeah, well a highlight video can make ANYONE look good".  Yeah, that's the point.  

Exactly, if these guys didn’t make good throws or have good games they wouldn’t be in the league to begin with. Also don’t wanna hear anymore “This qb just has to put it together mentally.” You could say that about literally any failed qb in history. 

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23 hours ago, NYJets43 said:

The Panthers are now looking to bring in Ben McAdoo to see if he can fix Sam Darnold. 
 

A lot of people (myself included) really thought Darnold would be good. Why do you think he ultimately hasn’t? What qualities does he lack?

Darnold started playing the position late in his football life I think he actually played LB in HS . His mechanics in College were terrible he also had a wacked out delivery in college. When he got to the pros he obviously was willing to put in the work but as others here have mentioned he just did not have the processing speed the position demands that and his vision was terrible so many videos of open receivers that he missed right in front of him. He also played scared consistently backing up and throwing off the back foot rather than stepping up and letting it rip.  Its sad because he's a good kid he just does not have what it takes to play the position at a high level.

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1 hour ago, nickfoshizal said:

Exactly, if these guys didn’t make good throws or have good games they wouldn’t be in the league to begin with. Also don’t wanna hear anymore “This qb just has to put it together mentally.” You could say that about literally any failed qb in history. 

Yep.  You can't cure "slow QB brain disease" like Darnold has.

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