Jets QB Sam Darnold had the debut every rookie dreams of: A blowout win that include your first couple touchdown passes, and most importantly, not too many mistakes.
But since that 48-17 win over the Lions, the Jets have lost three straight games, and Darnold hasn't looked like that quarterback in Detroit.
His Thursday night game against the Browns in Week 3 saw 169 yards on 15-of-31 through the air with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Darnold looked to bounce back against the Jags in Week 4, but it was virtually the same result minus the turnovers. He threw for 167 yards on 17-for-34 with one touchdown.
Despite those lackluster numbers, though, offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates realizes that Darnold is a 21-year-old rookie with tons of expectation on his shoulder. Bates is more concerned with Darnold's overall progress instead of the stat sheet.
And that progress has been good.
"He continues to get better," Bates said after practice Thursday. "I know we're not getting the results, the wins that we want at the end of the day. But each individual has to keep growing. We talk about keep getting better and I thought the game slowed down for him compared to the Thursday night game as far as he was able to see things. He played faster as far as his progression. So it was a step forward in a lot of things for Sam, and we still have to capitalize on some big plays and we gotta find a way to win as a quarterback. That's what you get judged on."
Head coach Todd Bowles is on the same page as Bates.
"I agree with that. I mean, he's making progress. Like I said, I was pleased with the way he plays and how the game slowed down for him. We'd like better results, but it's coming."
The results may not be what Darnold had in mind, but with each game, he is learning a boatload about how NFL defenses are going to come at him. And with time, that will hopefully turn into consistent success for the young quarterback.
"One thing about the NFL: Pretty much everybody has a good defense. So it's an exciting time for Sam. He's getting a good welcome into the NFL, going against some good defenses. He's learning [from] each experience and he's going to continue to grow."