Sam Darnold's performances have been mixed since he started a pivotal third NFL season with the Jets, but his future remains bright, according to one teammate.
Thirteenth-year veteran Joe Flacco, a former first-round pick and the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, backed Darnold after a disappointing first three games for the winless Jets (0-3).
"He's really talented -- he really is," Flacco said Tuesday. "I mean, he can make all the throws. He's got good feet. Good head on his shoulders. It's just about going out there and doing it consistently and playing together as a football team.
"I mean, in today's world -- and, really, always in the NFL -- you often forget that football is the biggest team sport in the world and takes 22 guys plus a couple more. There's a reason why we have 40-some guys up every week. It takes all of them and we've got to do better as a team is really what it comes down to."
Darnold, a No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, turned in his worst game of 2020 with Sunday's 36-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. He completed 17 of 29 passes (58.6 percent) for 168 yards and one touchdown to three interceptions.
Three weeks in, he is 59 for 96 (61.5 percent) with 562 yards and three touchdowns to four interceptions. He appeared to make progress during his second NFL season in 2019, going 7-6 and completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 3,024 yards and 19 touchdowns to 13 interceptions through 13 games.
Issues for a Jets offense that ranks last among all 32 teams in total yards (263.7) and points (12.3) per game delve deeper than Darnold, though. Flacco reiterated that point Tuesday.
"You can only do so much and we're in this as a team," Flacco said. "The biggest thing is just taking it one play at a time and focusing on the little things. You can't pay attention to the big picture of it all when you're going through some tough times. You've got to focus on the little things, the things that we've been doing our whole life to play successful football.
"And listen -- I've been through pretty much all situations at this point, in terms of wins, losses, in-game adjustments and all those things. And he's doing an awesome job keeping a head on himself and transferring that and getting it corrected. So I like where he's at right now and we've just got to keep it going."
Flacco, a former starter with the Baltimore Ravens (2008-18) and Denver Broncos (2019) whom the Jets signed to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, has been inactive through the first two weeks while recovering from a neck injury. During his time around Darnold, though, Flacco has done what he can to help him along.
"Listen, when you get down in a football game, if you're out on the schoolyard you go out there and you just flick it around and whatever happens happens, it doesn't really matter," Flacco said. "But in this league, things tend to be a little different. So you've just got to keep playing.
"That's what I said earlier -- you have to take it play by play and not try to look at the big picture but just focus on the little, small details of everything. And that's definitely a tough job. And that's our team, that's him -- that's everybody coming together, realizing those things and helping each other out."