New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws a 35 yard touchdown to Robbie Anderson in the 2nd quarter against the Denver Broncos on October 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
The New York Jets have a tradition after victories, where they'll break the team down after Todd Bowles' postgame speech shouting: "And the homeeeeee of the JETS!"
The last two games -- wins over Broncos and the Colts -- the person breaking them down (strong safety Jamal Adams in the former and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers in the latter) forgot the tradition. One could forgive Rodgers for the gaffe since he has been away from the team the last 10 days due to a serious health scare.
But a cynic would say it's almost as if the Jets had forgotten how to win. But, behind a suddenly explosive offense, opportunistic defense and steady kicking game, the Jets are re-learning.
Let's not get crazy after two straight wins. The Jets' wins have come against teams with a combined record of 5-12, and the only team they've even played that currently has a winning record is the Dolphins (4-2).
But it's hard not to see the strides this team is taking. In his postgame address to the team, Bowles said Sunday's game would've been one the Jets lost last season, and it's hard to refute him. The Colts scored on the second play of the fourth quarter, turning what was once a 17-point lead for the Jets into a six-point game.
But Sam Darnold led the offense on a 10-play drive to get a field goal. Then, Darron Lee intercepted Andrew Luck, Darnold led the Jets on another field goal drive and then New York was up 12 with 5:55 to play, basically icing the game.
The biggest difference between this year's team and last is Darnold. The 21-year-old makes plenty of mistakes -- a ton of them, in fact -- but he always seems to rally back. He has seven interceptions in only six games, which could spell doom against a solid defense like he'll face Sunday against the Vikings (3-2-1). Put it this way, he has thrown an interception on 3.9 percent of his passes. Brett Favre, who threw the most interceptions in NFL history (336) only was picked off on 3.3 percent of his passes. Aaron Rodgers, the all-time leader in this category has only been intercepted on 1.5 percent of his throws.
Still, Darnold doesn't seem to mind. Maybe this sounds trivial, but after Sunday's game seemed to epitomize Darnold's makeup. After he was showered up, he put on his backup and walked down the hall with a security guard to the family room to meet up with his folks. He stopped along the way to sign a few autographs and pose for some selfies, but that was it. There was no entourage, no fanfare, no women, no Joe Namath fur coat. If you saw him walking around a college campus, you wouldn't have thought anything of it, except for the fact that he's pretty tall.
And that unassuming nature carries onto the field.
"When he makes a mistake, he knows right away what he did wrong, and he gets it and he doesn't carry it with him," Bowles said Monday. "And he goes on to the next play. So you love that about the guy."
He's a coach's dream.
He may not always succeed, but he'll get you where you want to go most days. The Jets' offensive drives Sunday encapsulate Darnold in a nutshell. They had 13 of them -- nine ended in points (including eight straight possessions), two ended in turnovers, there was one punt and the last was three kneel downs to end the game.
Said Bowles: "I like the way we're moving the ball right now. I'd like to turn some of those field goals into touchdowns. Again, it's a series of tweaks here and there that we got to keep working on."
It's a winning formula. Now if the Jets could only remember their postgame victory tradition, they'll be in business.