As the Jets and New England Patriots continue to prepare for their season finale on Sunday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick continues to dish out praise for some prominent members of Gang Green.
After saying on Tuesday that Adam Gase and the Jets’ coaching staff have done “an outstanding job” in improving the team this season despite having so many injured players, Belichick on Wednesday was very complimentary of Sam Darnold, saying that the Jets’ young signal-caller, who has been playing “error-free” football in recent weeks, has all the tools you look for in a quarterback.
“I think he’s got the ability to make all the throws,” Belichick said. “Can throw the ball down the field, intermediate throws, there are plenty of examples of him going through a read progression, one-two-three-type of progression, high to low, outside to inside, man to zone, one side of the field to the other based on what the coverage is, blitzes. I think he’s shown the ability to do everything.
“The consistency has looked better in recent weeks. I don’t think there’s any shortage of talent there. Play-making ability, we saw him run, we saw him run for a [46-yard] touchdown against the Broncos. So, he’s an athletic guy that has a great arm, great size, hard to tackle in the pocket.”
Belichick, who holds a 32-11 record against the Jets since joining the Patriots in 2000, again took time to point out the role of Gase and the offensive staff in Darnold’s development.
“He’s a good prospect and he’s being well-coached. I know he’s getting good coaching and has a good system that works through the quarterback,” Belichick said. “[Gase has] always had an offensive system that’s given the quarterback all the opportunities to have tools that they need to be successful. I don’t think you could have anybody better coaching him than where he’s at, so he’s progressing as you’d expect he would.”
There is a possibility, of course, that Sunday’s game could be the final game with the Jets for both Gase and Darnold, as their futures with the organization seem very much in the air. The Jets will have an opportunity to draft just about any quarterback they choose in this upcoming draft (barring Trevor Lawrence, outside of a trade-up to the No. 1 spot), but when Belichick was asked about Darnold’s development, he said it was impossible to give exact details without being around Darnold on a daily basis, but that all players learn and develop differently.
“Each player learns at different rates, sometimes with different teaching tools,” Belichick said.
“You really need to develop that relationship with the individual player, especially at that position. I’d say all the guys that I’ve ever coached there, Cleveland to here regardless of whatever position they are on the depth chart, I’d say it’s a little bit different for all of them. Not in a bad way, it’s just that we’re all different.”
Darnold will have a chance to improve his 13-24 career record on Sunday against the Patriots, a team that he is 0-2 against as the Jets’ starter.