Jets QB Sam Darnold moves on from Patriots rout, 'seeing ghosts' criticism

Andy Vasquez

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — If Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is feeling any pressure or insecurity after the worst start of his professional career, he wasn’t showing it Thursday.

Less than 72 hours after committing a career-high five turnovers against the Patriots in a 33-0 loss in front of a national television audience, Darnold made it clear that he had already moved on from the debacle.

“I was able to get over it on my own,” said Darnold, who returned from a toe injury to practice fully as the Jets prepared to face Jaguars on Sunday. “Just getting back here and watching the game and right there, right when I started watching Jacksonville film, I was done with it. I was over it. That’s how I have to look at things and that’s what I did.” 

Well, he was done with it until a room full of reporters reminded him with just about every question during his 10-minute weekly press conference. 

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The 22-year-old endured the postmortem graciously, thoughtfully answering questions and not showing a trace of annoyance as he was asked to relive his worst night as a pro. 

“Getting out there in the game and not executing what we had planned always makes me sick to my stomach,” Darnold said. “It’s a tough thing out there when you know exactly the look that you’re getting and you just don’t execute. And that was on me, nobody else.”

That’s probably not true. The offensive line could have done a better job blocking and executing protections. Jets coach Adam Gase could have made some adjustments when it was clear Darnold was not his usual self. And the Jets’ receivers could have made more plays. 

But Darnold, who set a career high in  turnovers (5) and career lows in passing yards (86), passer rating (3.6) and completion percentage (34.4), said the biggest issue was the way he dealt with the Patriots blitz. 

“That was our problem on Monday night, making those situations a lot harder than they had to be,” Darnold said. “For us we practiced against those looks and got them in practice, it was just about going out there and — we had a good plan, too, to execute against zero. I just didn’t execute it. That’s it.”

So what went wrong? Darnold said that he got too far into his own head. 

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) walks off the field after throwing an interception against the New England Patriots in the first half. The New York Jets host the New England Patriots in NFL Week 7 on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in East Rutherford.

“Honestly, I think the biggest thing for me is that I was thinking too much out there,” Darnold said with a chuckle. “I wasn’t keeping things simple enough. I was trying to do too much and when I do that I get myself into trouble.”

Jets coach Adam Gase made it clear that he and the Jets were not happy that Darnold’s “I’m seeing ghosts” made it to air on the “Monday Night Football” broadcast, as the quarterback was struggling. But Darnold said it didn’t bother him all that much that the comment got broadcasted. 

“It is what it is,” Darnold said. “For me, especially kind of in the football world, that term gets thrown around a little bit. But for me it was a moment in time where especially in the game, I wasn’t really seeing things as clearly as I hoped that I would, and that was kind of what that meant. Nothing more, nothing less than that’s really all that it was.”

Darnold also said that the episode won’t stop him from wearing a microphone in future games or make him think more about what he’s saying on the sidelines. 

“No, I’m going to continue to be myself because if I start worrying about that kind of stuff, I’m worried about the wrong things,” Darnold said. “I’ve got to continue to be me and being honest with my coaches no matter what, no matter if I’m mic’d up or not.”

As for his toe, Darnold said the injury occurred when he got stepped on during the Patriots loss. He had a toenail removed, and will wear special protection in his shoe. Darnold said he couldn't feel the injury Thursday during practice and doesn't expect it to be an issue Sunday