Sam Darnold vs. Daniel Jones: Which QB Would You Want the Next 5 Years?

Jason Keidel
May 12, 2020 - 8:00 am

Despite posting a 4-12 season in 2019, the Giants are bubbling with optimism. And despite completing four-straight losing seasons since the '60s, the Jets are equally psyched over their future. Both of our local NFL teams are fueled by what they feel are their franchise quarterbacks, Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold, respectively.  

So who has it better? Which QB will be better over the next five years?

Darnold, who turns 23 on June 5, seems like the easier answer. The Jets QB has more experience, has passed for more career yards, more touchdowns and won more games. Despite the club's 7-9 record last year, Darnold went 7-6 in his starts.  

Jones, who is nine days older than Darnold, is a bit more complicated. While the Jets QB was considered a safe pick — a strapping quarterback who played for USC and had just finished a superhuman Rose Bowl performance — Jones was not as heralded coming out of college.

Many a moron said Big Blue made a big gaffe by drafting the Duke passer with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Yours truly was a flag-waving leader of the revolt. A Duke QB had never been drafted in the first round — unless you consider Giants bust Dave Brown, who was grabbed in the first round of the 1992 Supplemental Draft. Moreover, Duke was a basketball school, and had never spawned a great pro quarterback. Add to that the fact that Jones has a 3-9 record (with two wins against the rancid Redskins) and it's almost impossible to pick Jones. 


Maybe it's the fact that the Jets still haven't drafted or developed a great QB since Joe Namath. Maybe it's the fact that you expect things to organically fall apart for Gang Green. Maybe it's the fact that Darnold said he saw ghosts during a game against the Patriots, and that the Jets allowed that to happen. 

Or Maybe Daniel Jones just has more promise. Either way, he's the pick here. 

Even though the Giants went 4-12 last year, Jones flashed more brilliance than Darnold has. We've made a big deal of Jones's five-touchdown, zero interception performance on Dec. 22 in Washington, but Jones also had two games in which he tossed four TDs and no picks, both losses against the Jets and Lions. Darnold doesn't have one such game despite playing exactly twice as many games (26) as Jones (13). 

Jones has a higher career completion percentage (61.9) than Darnold (59.9). Jones has tossed two TDs for every INT. Darnold throws 1.3 scores for every pick. Jones hurled 24 scores in his rookie season; Darnold has yet to throw 20 touchdowns in a season. Jones ran for 279 yards in 12 games last year; Darnold scrambled for 62 rushing yards in 13 games a year ago. Jones has an 87.7 career passer rating. Darnold sports an 81.1 rating over two seasons. 

Perhaps it's Jones' more nimble feet, or atheltic legs, or old-world wisdom. It just feels like, at his best, Daniel Jones is a better quarterback than Sam Darnold. 

Of course, the two careers are not mutually exclusive. Both can play well and become franchise players. But Jones has shown more patience, mobility, and maturity in his pro games. It's a hard sell when you go 3-9 in the emaciated NFC East, while Darnold had to navigate the AFC East, which sent two teams (Bills, Pats) to the playoffs in 2019. Jones also nearly lapped the league with 18 fumbles, while Darnold has just seven fumbles over two years. 

But the moment Daniel Jones took the ball from the Mesozoic Eli Manning at Tampa Bay, you knew you were watching a different dude. Jones played with passion and purpose, and his teammates clearly felt the spike in mojo. Indeed, Jones took a 28-10 halftime deficit and flipped it into a 32-31 statement game and signature win. The fact that it came during a lost season doesn't erase the reason that it mattered. 

There are the seeds of a special time for NFL quarterbacks at MetLife Stadium. Maybe both break out into their singular brand of baller. But it says here that Daniel Jones, at his acrobatic best, is better than the slower, more-plodding, ghost-finding Sam Darnold. 

Twitter: @JasonKeidel