Jets player: 'Flow is going' toward Sam Darnold as starter

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, August 27, 2018

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. --New York Jets coach Todd Bowles won't divulge his quarterback decision until next week but said he has a "good idea" who will start the regular season.

So do his players.

Rookie Sam Darnold, who started the past two preseason games, is the heavy favorite. Two players told ESPN the expectation in the locker room is that Darnold will get the nod over incumbent Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater.

"You kind of know where the flow is going," one player said.

Bowles said Sunday that he will solicit input from his coaches before making the call. He won't base it on one or two games, but rather a full evaluation from the spring and summer.

"It's not a state of the union meeting type of thing," said Bowles, who has final say on lineup decisions. "They have a feel for where I am, from the coaching standpoint.

"As coaches, we'll meet on it and keep meeting on it. I have my ideas in my head, which I'll keep to myself at this time, but I have a good idea."

Asked if he is struggling with the decision, Bowles said, "Not really, no."

Darnold, drafted third overall, has gained the trust of the coaching staff with his heady play. His preseason passer rating is a pedestrian 83.9, but he has impressed the organization with his poise, accuracy (64 percent completion rate) and mobility.

All three quarterbacks adhered to the company line, declining to speculate on the outcome.

"I mean, I wouldn't be disappointed and I wouldn't be surprised," said Darnold, who has played nine of the 12 possessions for the starting offense. "Throughout my short career playing football, I've seen a lot of things. Teddy and Josh are great players, so I wouldn't be surprised. At the same time, every quarterback wants to play, but that's not my job [to decide]."

Bridgewater is intriguing because he could be trade bait. He dodged a question about trade speculation on Sunday, saying, "Right now, I'm living in the now."

Playing mostly with the backups, Bridgewater has completed 74 percent of his passes, compiling a 104.7 passer rating. He has proved that his surgically repaired knee is sound.

Meanwhile, McCown has been the forgotten man, as he saw no action in the past two games. He said he was not bothered that Darnold has received the vast majority of the reps.

"When you pick somebody No. 3 overall and he's a rookie, obviously he's going to get a ton of work because he needs that," McCown said. "It's been great work for Sam. He has improved every day. It's been awesome to watch."

A year ago, McCown wound up being the Week 1 starter after sitting out the second and third preseason games. The hope was that Christian Hackenberg would seize the job, but he played poorly.

This time, the Jets won't need McCown as the fallback option.

On Sunday, the Jets added a fourth quarterback, rookie John Wolford, who was in their rookie minicamp as a non-roster player. Bowles said Wolford, formerly of Wake Forest, is a practice squad candidate and could get mop-up duty Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

To make room for Wolford, the Jets waived wide receiver Lucky Whitehead with an injury designation.

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