Falcons-Jets: Darnold Gets First Shot to Win Gang Green’s QB Job

SBR Staff

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 10:02 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 10:02 PM UTC

New York Jets fans will get their first up close look at rookie quarterback Sam Darnold when he makes his preseason debut Friday against the visiting Falcons on the NFL Network.

Interesting how the NFL scheduled Week 1 of the preseason with 12 of the 16 games on Thursday, two on Friday and two on Saturday. The early game Friday features the Atlanta Falcons visiting the New York Jets with a 7:30 p.m. ET start on the NFL Network. And all eyes clearly will be on Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft out of Southern Cal. Fans of Gang Green have essentially been looking for a franchise quarterback since Joe Namath. New York is a 3-point favorite for this one at Intertops.

In the Jets’ first depth chart, Darnold was listed third behind incumbent starter Josh McCown and new addition Teddy Bridgewater, the former Minnesota Viking. That’s not a huge surprise considering both McCown and Bridgewater are veterans and that Darnold missed the first three training camp practices due to a contract dispute.

For what it’s worth, plugged-in ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter reported this week that Darnold "has a very fair shot" of winning the Jets' starting job for the regular-season opener. If Darnold doesn’t, we likely won’t have any rookie Week 1 QB starters for the first time since 2007.

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Target practice isn’t just for fun 🎯@JoshMcCown12 is showing the QBs how to hit a guy like @youngamazing9:

“It’s hard to ask WRs to run deep over and over, especially on a hot day like this. We use buckets to get a feel for the distance, arm speed & trajectory of the throw.” pic.twitter.com/SrRllo8dPN

— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 6, 2018

The streak nearly ended last year as none of the three first-round picks – Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes or Houston’s Deshaun Watson – started the opener. Watson did relieve Tom Savage in Week 1 and then started until he torn ACL in a midseason practice. The only Week 1 rookie starter last year was Browns second-round pick DeShone Kizer. He was overmatched overall in 2017 as Cleveland went 0-16. Kizer was traded this offseason to Green Bay.

Darnold is currently +1400 at Intertops to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Giants running back Saquon Barkley is the +150 favorite, followed by Browns QB Baker Mayfield (+450), Cardinals QB Josh Rosen (+1000), Redskins running back Derrius Guice (+1000) and Bills quarterback Josh Allen (+1200). By all accounts, Mayfield has zero shot of starting Week 1 unless Tyrod Taylor gets hurt. Allen has even less of a chance in Buffalo as the Bills will go with either AJ McCarron or Nathan Peterman. Rosen has a slight shot to beat out Sam Bradford. Otherwise, this streak is pretty much on Darnold.

It’s not clear how much Darnold will play against the Falcons – a quarter is a good guess. The 39-year-old McCown has been the best quarterback in training camp but there’s no need to play him much. Bridgewater needs plenty of reps since he has barely played football since suffering very serious knee injuries Aug. 30, 2016 while at Vikings practice.

The Falcons, meanwhile, obviously have no quarterback worries as former NFL MVP Matt Ryan became the highest-paid player in the NFL this offseason. Ryan likely won’t play much Thursday. He’s +1800 at Intertops to win another MVP. Two Falcons already ruled out are offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo and kicker Matt Bryant.

Atlanta won at the Jets last regular season, 25-20, in Week 8 in a driving rain in the Meadowlands. Falcons coach Dan Quinn is 4-8 ATS on the Intertops odds in his preseason career, while the Jets’ Todd Bowles is 7-5 ATS.

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