“Wear a mic,” they said. “It’ll be good for your brand,” they said. “What could go wrong? It will give everyone a look into what it’s really like to be Sam Darnold,” they said.
Never again. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!
Somewhere Monday night, Mark Sanchez felt a weight lift off of him. Because even though he ran face-first into an ass on Thanksgiving Night seven years ago, nobody ever heard him mutter fearfully about what the Patriots were doing to him.
But Sam Darnold did. Miked up for Monday Night by ESPN, we found out with 2:55 left in that Darnold is just 22 and he do mind dying.
“They’re gonna keep bringing it,” Darnold muttered. “Seeing ghosts.”
In what may have been one of the worst quarterbacking performances of this decade, Darnold threw up more fallaways than Wizards-era Michael Jordan.
Let’s get this clear: you, me and 99.9 percent of the people on this planet would soil ourselves if we had to take a shotgun snap in an NFL game and figure out who to throw it to. We wouldn’t know what to do. We’d panic. We’d see ghosts, werewolves, minotaurs, small children chewing tin foil. But we’d have an excuse for the soiling and the panic. Not our job.
It is Darnold’s job. He’s an NFL quarterback, a top-10 pick, a young man eight days removed from a very impressive win over the Cowboys.
And Darnold wasn’t just caught in a moment of candor using a common football phrase meaning he sensed pressure that wasn’t coming.
He played with palpable fear. Every one of the four interceptions he threw was a grenade toss into nowhere. He took a flamethrower to any chance his team had to win. Worse, he may have assassinated his teammates’ confidence in him. To say nothing of what a performance like that will do to his own confidence.
If he were smart, he’d blame it on the spleen. But it’s probably too late for that. His “Seeing ghosts …” utterance will live in infamy. Especially if the Patriots defense continues down the historic path it’s on.
Through seven games, the New England defense has allowed 27 points. It wasn’t long ago that that was a good half for the Patriots when Matt Patricia was in charge. (I joke.) Now, despite all the “Yeah, buts …” about the teams they haven’t played, the mountain of statistical evidence has become impossible to dismiss. This unit is tracking to be the hardest defense to score on in the modern football era. Some would use shorten that description by simply using the words “best defense in the modern era.”
Darnold’s words make it easier for the collection of Patriots players trying to speak into existence the “Boogeymen” nickname they’ve been working on. It isn’t quite as catchy as The Killer B’s or The Steel Curtain but it’s just as good as the Purple People Eaters.
And now they’ve got Darnold co-signing on the concept.
Told that Darnold mentioned ghosts, Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy said, “That’s the Boogeymen. Did he really say that? That’s crazy. That makes it real.”
During his postgame interview on ESPN, Dont'a Hightower was told about Darnold’s words and reacted with disbelief, his eyes widening as he said, “Really?!”
It wouldn’t have been so bad for Darnold had he not intimated last week that he was about to find the soft underbelly of the New England defense and feast.
"Their defense is good, they have been all year,” Darnold said of the Patriots. "But just like any team, they’re not unbeatable. So we’ve just got to go out there, find the weakness in the defense and keep working it. So that’s what we’re going to do on Monday night."
He also said after last week’s win over the Cowboys that, once the Jets had all their players up to speed, they’d be “unstoppable.”
The Patriots heard all of it and then used it against Darnold and the Jets all night long.
As for the other side of the ball? Tom Brady was still a little tepid in the postgame about the output.
“We’re looking for (consistency) and we’ll be trying to be a little better next week,” he said.
He’s been a notoriously hard grader all season, but it is a fact that once the Patriots got out to their fat 24-0 lead, the offense managed just one score over its final nine possessions.
Still, that shouldn’t overshadow the dissection he presided over. Given 11 days to get ready for the Jets, the Patriots offense scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions. And that was with the offense incorporating two new tight ends (Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson), a parade of lead blockers for Sony Michel and a bigger role for rookie Jakobi Meyers. And it was without Josh Gordon, Rex Burkhead and the other offensive personnel the team’s been doing without for a while now.
The running game is still sputtering along and the reliance on Julian Edelman and James White is still outsized (the two were handed off to or targeted with passes a total of 28 times) but, as Brady pointed out, if the other team doesn’t score, it’s going to be hard to beat the Patriots.
The next two weeks brings the rest of the upper tier of 2018 quarterback draftees. The Patriots have already dispatched Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Darnold. Next up, it’s Baker Mayfield and then Lamar Jackson.
As the week progresses, we’ll do our analysis and — by Sunday — we (or, more accurately, I) will have found ghosts of our own. Phantom reasons why opposing offenses may pose a threat to the Patriots defense and give this team a reasonably competitive game. Reasons that maybe the Patriots should be ascared.
And by 4 p.m. or so, I’ll probably be where I’ve been after a bunch of other games this year. Like Sam Darnold, not exactly sure what I’d seen.
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