Jets' Sam Darnold weighs in on Giants' transition from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones


As rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones takes over the Giants' offense for 17th-year veteran Eli Manning, a decision announced Tuesday by New York, the crosstown starter has an idea of what the transition will be like.

Just last year, fresh off the Jets making him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Sam Darnold ascended to the top of the depth chart and began his rookie season with the Jets as the team's starter.

Now in his second year with New York while he works back from mononucleosis, Darnold understands that the news can be tough for Manning to process, but the development should only help Jones as the Giants move forward.


"It's a hard business," Darnold said Tuesday on ESPN 98.7 FM's The Michael Kay Show. "Eli's been the quarterback for so long. Obviously, he's got two Super Bowls. He's been the Giants' quarterback for so long. You draft a guy high like Daniel for a reason. Some people were expecting him to come this early and start this early, and people like myself -- I didn't know what to expect. But now that it's kind of Daniel's turn to go out there and play, you're not really sure what that means for you because it looks like, when (Manning) plays, he can still go out there and throw it."

Considered the heir apparent to Manning since the Giants made him the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Jones quickly garnered attention.

When he made his preseason debut Aug. 8 at MetLife Stadium, Darnold and the Jets saw flashes of Jones firsthand.

At the start of a four-game run in which he completed 29 of 34 passes for (85.3 percent) for 416 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, Jones went a perfect 5-of-5 passing and 67 yards -- including a touchdown -- during the Giants' 31-22 win over the Jets.

"It's just an interesting situation," Darnold said. "But I definitely think it's, this season, (if) the coaches are going to make that decision now, it's going to be Daniel's team now."

Darnold took a different route, starting from the Jets' 2018 season opener on. He missed three games with a foot injury, but ultimately parlayed his 13 starts into key development for 2019.

In today's NFL, rookie quarterbacks have increasingly played sooner than later, with Patrick Maholmes of the Kansas City Chiefs winning the league's 2018 MVP during his sophomore season -- one year after sitting behind veteran Alex Smith.

"I think experience is everything," Darnold said. "There's nothing like going out there and playing real games. Obviously, you have the special situation with Patrick Maholmes -- sitting out a whole year, maybe getting to play the last game of the season and going out there your second year and just absolutely killing it, just getting to watch Alex Smith and (head coach) Andy Reid run his offense and then coming in the second year and playing like that.

"But I think for me, getting those live reps in the games and getting pressure in my face and finding guys open -- just really feeling out an NFL game and feeling that a few times. There's nothing like it. There's nothing like that live experience and I think, for a rookie quarterback -- especially, if you draft a guy early and get a team around him -- it's definitely important to get him experience."

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