Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold wrote a first-person letter to the official team site reflecting on New York's 1-3 start and how he's handled the transition from USC to the NFL. He wants you to know three things:
He doesn't only look up to Josh McCown and Joe Namath
Despite beating out the veteran McCown in the preseason, the 21-year-old Darnold said he looked to McCown as a mentor.
"There's not a whole lot I can put into words and say what I want to say about Josh," Darnold said. "He's someone I look up to as a person. When we watch film, he can be like a brother and a coach at the same time. He's a hard-nosed dude who will tell me when I'm wrong right away, but then also say, 'Hey, buddy, that's okay, we'll get back after it tomorrow.' He's going to get on me when I make a mistake because he knows that's the best way I learn."
But McCown isn't the only one. Given he went to USC, Darnold also listed former Trojans like Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley as quarterbacks to whom he looked up.
And when the Hall of Famer Namath complimented Darnold, he said it meant a lot to him.
"... to have Joe Namath, someone who very much so made it here, recognize some talent in me," Darnols said, "it really means a great deal to me. That's really special and something I'm going to hold with me for a long time."
He thought his opening pick-six was a big play at first
Darnold jpined the likes of Brett Favre and Jameis Winston when he became the third quarterback in NFL history to throw a pick-six on his first pass attempt.
He scrambled out of the pocket and threw across the field intended for Bilal Powell, but Detroit Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs jumped the route and returned the interception 37 yards for a touchdown.
At first, Darnold thought he made the right decision.
"Unfortunately, I do believe my signature moment so far was actually the first play of my career," he said. "You know, the one that went the other way for six. Funny enough, I actually thought we had a big play until just after I threw it. It sucked. It was a 'wow, okay, that just happened' moment."
Of course, Darnold rebounded tremendously afterward. He threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Jets to a 48-17 win.
New York has since lost three straight games with Darnold throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions. But if the Jets can recover from his pick-six in Week 1, then ...
He is confident the Jets will recover from their 1-3 start
Said Darnold: "But the way we bounced back as a team and fought was really special to me and showed our resiliency. We have to continue to find that juice throughout the season even though it can be long and grueling. We're going to make adjustments when they need to be made and I'm very confident in our team. We're headed in the right direction."
The Jets have opened the season with three road games in their first four games, but play three straight games at MetLife Stadium beginning Sunday against the Denver Broncos. And Darnold is excited.
"I can't wait to play in front of the home crowd for three straight games," he said. "Jets fans are amazing. ... Our fans deserve it. They deserve wins."