New York Jets: 5 Reasons Sam Darnold Will Live Up to the Hype

USC Trojans, Sam Darnold
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

No. 3: Sam Darnold Can Use His Legs… When He Wants To

Sam Darnold’s 250 rush yards on 62 attempts two seasons ago were nice. But he ultimately cut down on his rush-yard totals last year while increasing his attempts — 82 yards on 75 attempts.

Does that mean Darnold was less effective as a mobile quarterback last year? Not necessarily.

One of the biggest differences between Darnold’s 2016 and 2017 campaigns was the fact the quarterback relied less on his legs in games and only used that skill when necessary.

A number of years ago, I discussed the same topic with Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young when we were talking about then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — often described as a “one read quarterback,” who’d take off when the receiving option wasn’t there.

Young’s take on this is telling:

“The fact is sooner or later, you have to become the CEO to orchestrate, not only the offense, but the whole organization. Elite—Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees—these are CEOs of organizations that have mastered how to do that job from the pocket.

I had the dynamic ability as well, but I couldn’t become that CEO, that orchestrator, until I tied my legs up and learned the job. And that’s the challenge.”

Many, many rookie quarterbacks with rushing abilities rely on this early on. Young was one of them. But last year’s indication is that Darnold has already learned to rely more on his pocket abilities than scrambling as a secondary resort.

If that’s not a sign of maturation, what is?

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