Josh McCown Has Faith in “Much More Mature” Sam Darnold

Josh McCown, Sam Darnold
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Current Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Sam Darnold, who will likely be the starter week one, has come a long way since his days with the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers.

After being drafted No. 3 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Jets, Darnold has a career winning percentage of only 43.3% and has struggled most of his NFL career. Now, he’s on his fourth NFL team in 7 seasons.

Although he’s yet to live up to his No. 3 overall pick expectations, Sam has finally landed on a team that can properly support with coaches and offensive weapons that can positively influence his growth as an NFL QB, something he did not have in New York or Carolina.

Well, that’s only partially true. Darnold did have quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, who the Vikings hired in February, and he was a backup QB for the Jets when the now 26-year-old Sam Darnold was a 21-year-old 1st round rookie.

Josh McCown very complimentary of Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Darnold

According to what Darnold told Kevin Seifert (ESPN), that he and the new Vikings QB coach became “best friends — the youngest guy on the team and the oldest guy on the team” while playing together in New York.

When Seifert went to McCown to talk about the Vikings’ new quarterback, he told Seifert that he Sam looks like a new QB to him too. Compared to their days together with the Jets McCown told ESPN that Darnold is a “much more mature” football player now than he was back then; also alluding to how much smarter of a player he is now too.

But amid their reunion in Minnesota, McCown said he has already observed “how much more mature” Darnold is “and how much he’s learned from a football standpoint.”

Kevin Seifert (ESPN)

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This is quite the compliment, coming from McCown, the guy who saw Darnold take his rookie lumps closer than anybody else on the planet. No doubt it will be that maturation over the last five years that gives Sam the leg up on J.J. McCarthy entering minicamp.

It remains to be seen whether or not Darnold is a better quarterback now, than he was as a rookie with the New York Jets, or a couple years later in Carolina. Some NFL media members believe Darnold excels in practices because he’s unbothered by the pressures that game day brings.

Others believe he is the easy favorite to take the majority of QB1 snaps in purple this season. Only time will tell us which faction was correct. But we know one thing is for sure. Josh McCown knows Sam Darnold better than any quarterbacks coach in the league.

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He knows what he does well, what he doesn’t do well, what he struggles with, and what he excels at. If Sam is showing a significant improvement in any area, McCown would certainly be the first to notice. With all this knowledge, hopefully McCown can get the best out of Darnold if he does indeed become the Vikings’ starter this season.

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