Sam Darnold or Daniel Jones? Daniel Jones or Sam Darnold?
The Great New York Franchise Quarterback Debate is in its infancy and way too premature to declare a winner.
That won’t stop Jets fans from championing Darnold’s cause or Giants fans from championing Jones’ cause. Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, each respective fan base hopes to have more evidence to support its young quarterback.
Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Some in the NFL will see the beauty in Darnold. Some will see the beauty in Jones.
ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky sees the beauty in Darnold.
“Sam’s got more uncoachable arm talent, where he can do stuff from different arm angles and different foot platforms and make more challenging throws,” Orlovsky told The Post. “He’s a very accurate player without perfect feet. That’s always been a trait of his game.
“Daniel is probably a more refined quarterback. They’re very different players, but both are accurate players and that’s the greatest physical tool a quarterback can have.
“If they both got the same set of circumstances around them and you gave them a blank slate, I would take Sam Darnold because I cannot find someone to coach some of the things he can do.”
CBS analyst Rich Gannon sees the beauty in Jones.
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“I like him. I like his athleticism. I like his mobility. I think he throws a good ball,” Gannon said. “I think you can see the impact that [Duke coach] David Cutcliffe has had on him, not just mechanically, but also mentally. He’s a guy that clearly understands how to play the position. He, like his colleague there in New York, better figure out the ball security thing.”
Gannon’s message for Giants fans?
“My message to them is to be patient,” he said. “I think he’s gonna be a good player, I really do, once they continue to add the pieces around him.”
A more balanced attack with fewer pass attempts would only benefit Jones.
“He needs to be in the 20s. But instead, they’re throwing the ball 40 times in a game, and that’s a lot,” Gannon said. “You don’t realize that the guys chasing you aren’t the guys in the ACC. These are trained assassins. They work on ball extraction every day in practice.”
Jones has shown that he has the right makeup for the position and the New York market.
“The thing that I’ve been most impressed with him is his resiliency,” Orlovsky said. “He can make a mistake and he comes back and it’s like it never happened. He’s a very move-on-from-what-just-happened quarterback. That’s been impressive for a young kid in a difficult market on a team that’s not good. I don’t find the fumbling to be an issue that is gonna be something that holds him back.”
Orlovsky doesn’t see Darnold’s improvisational ability in Jones.
“Daniel is a good player until the plan breaks down,” Orlovsky said. “A plus B sometimes doesn’t equal C in the NFL. So when that happens, he has struggled. When he gets under pressure, he has struggled. That’s the same stuff that was part of his college game. But he plays on a bad football team. So if I’m a Giants fan, I’m much more excited about the quarterback position than I had maybe thought I would be seven months ago.”
Gannon points to the Jets changing head coaches, the offensive line getting too few preseason snaps together and Le’Veon Bell not playing.
“I thought they made a huge, huge mistake in the preseason,” Gannon said. “When you evaluate that position you also have to evaluate what’s going on around him.
“When you constantly pull the rug out from under a young player at that position, you don’t help him, you hurt him. It really retards his growth and development as a player. … It happened to Alex Smith, it happened to Derek Carr, he gets five coordinators in six years. It’s a dysfunctional way to develop a quarterback.
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“And then the other thing is here’s a guy that turned the ball over 37 times in 26 games at USC and he hasn’t quite figured out how to get that fixed.
“There’s gotta be a sense of urgency. We’ve gotta see better improvement from him the second half of the season especially when it comes to ball security, decision-making.”
Gannon’s eye does see behind the beauty in Darnold, however.
“He throws the ball well enough, I think he’s got good anticipation and accuracy, I think he’s a smart guy, I think he’s got some toughness to him,” Gannon said.
Jones has for the most part been a better decision maker, but Orlovsky will gladly live with some of Darnold’s decisions.
“At times, he’s going to do a dumb thing,” Orlovsky said. “But there’s going to be 10 other plays that make up for that one dumb play.”
Orlovsky believes Darnold has been held back by Adam Gase.
“There’s two teams in the NFL — talented teams and untalented teams,” Orlovsky said. “If their untalented teams are losing, then you have to look at the coach and go, ‘Are you doing enough to close that talent gap schematically?’ And that’s not happening.”
Jets-Giants on Sunday. Darnold-Jones. More growing pains for both young franchise quarterbacks. But enough hope for both franchises.
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