Jets WR Jermaine Kearse and rookie QB Sam Darnold are locker room buddies. They sit right next to each other in the room, and Kearse takes advantage of that by preaching his veteran wisdom whenever he can on the 21-year-old signal caller.
One way he does that is recalling the time he was a rookie in Seattle back in 2012, and a fellow rookie in QB Russell Wilson was in the same boat as Darnold this season. He was a young gun coming off a solid Wisconsin career, and was looking to make an immediate impact in the NFL.
During a break in game action in the Seahawks' second preseason game, Wilson returned to the huddle and heard Kearse talking as he began to speak. What he did next immediately caught the attention of Kearse.
"Shut the f*ck up," Wilson said to Kearse according to NJ.com's Darryl Slater.
Wilson took command of his offense from the get-go, and that is exactly what Kearse wants Darnold to do. Of course, there are different ways of going about it.
"Now I'm not saying he's got to come in here telling people to shut the f*ck up," Kearse explained. "But when you want that attention, and you want everybody's eyes on you, you'e got to demand it. And people are going to respond."
That side of Darnold is slowly coming along, but his command of the offense has been growing by the week.
"I sit here and I talk to him every day about commanding the huddle," Kearse said. "I told him it's his offense. It's not [coordinator Jeremy] Bates' offense. It's not [coach Todd] Bowles' offense. It's his offense. So whatever he wants, he's got to demand that."
There was an uptick in that command this past week in the Jets' win over the Broncos in East Rutherford. And not only did Kearse say it, but right tackle Brandon Shell said Darnold's demeanor definitely saw a change.
"Big difference," Shell said. "He was confident with his play calls. He was just more confident. Him having that confidence helps out everybody."
Center Spencer Long was snapping to Kirk Cousins before coming over the Jets this season, so he knows about how a quarterback should command a huddle. He sees that in Darnold.
"If you're in there and you're kind of timid, then guys can sense that," Long said. "But he's not."
Darnold is still the "surfer dude, bonfire-type guy" as Kearse describe the West Coast kid. So, that aggressive attitude will take time to master. But it has been coming along nicely, and thanks to Kearse's Wilson stories among other advice, he knows Darnold will be a natural at it in no time.
"It'll help him grow as a man and as a quarterback in this league," Kearse said about Darnold's demeanor. "He's getting it and he's continuing to get better at it each day. He's been more vocal. He's understanding that he's the leader. We're looking at him to lead us when we're out there on the field."