Sam Darnold has received more favorable press coverage in four quarters of NFL football than Ryan Tannehill has seen in six-plus seasons.
And that’s not a knock on Tannehill, who has some truly great moments in an up-and-down career.
It’s more of a commentary on the runaway hype train rolling through New York.
Need proof? Look no further than the Gotham tabloids the morning after Darnold and the Jets skunked the Lions 48-17.
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“INSAMITY!” the New York Post blared on its back page Tuesday.
“B’WAY SAM!” was the headline from the New York Daily News.
Yes, one of New York’s historic papers compared Darnold to Joe Namath after one start.
In fairness, Darnold was really good in his debut — aside from the pick-six he threw on his first NFL attempt. He completed 16 of 20 pass attempts for 198 yards and two touchdowns after the first mistake.
But Tannehill has had plenty of games like that in his career — with nowhere near the fanfare.
What’s more, the New York fanbase seems ready to crown its quarterback while Dolphins Twitter remains decidedly undecided — if not outright hostile — toward Tannehill.
Fair? Probably not. But supporters are emotional, not rational. The word fan is short for fanatic.
Jets coach Todd Bowles knows the hype surrounding his 21-year-old triggerman is out of control. And on Wednesday, did his best to tamp it down.
“We won one game,” Bowles said. “I can tell you after about 100 more of them whether we have [a franchise quarterback] or not, right now it’s a little early. … It’s been one game. To sit here and say whether he’s great, whether he’s trash or whether anything else is kind of way too early for that. He’s played one game, he’s got a lot of years to go and he’ll build it as he goes.”
Let’s see what he does Sunday against a competent football team. The Lions looked like they will compete with the Bills for NFL’s worst team in 2018.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, had the league’s No. 2 pass defense in Week 1, in terms of opposing passer rating (37.2).
And they have more information on Darnold than the Lions did Monday night.
Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke waited until Tuesday morning to start game-planning for Darnold. Miami coaches watched Darnold tape from USC and the preseason, but wanted to see how the Jets used him in a regular-season game before figuring out a way to stop him.
“I thought he had an impressive debut,” Burke said. “I’ve coached in Detroit. I’ve coached ‘Monday Night Football’ games in Detroit. That’s a loud stadium. That’s a hard place to play. I know the game kind of got out of hand as it went on, but I thought he showed a lot of poise handling that and being on the road.”
That case as no surprise to linebacker Jerome Baker, one of two Dolphins defenders to face Darnold in college (Minkah Fitzpatrick was the other).
Baker’s Ohio State Buckeyes beat USC 24-7 in the Cotton Bowl in December, but Darnold’s toughness on that day impressed Miami’s rookie linebacker.
“Our D-line did all of the work,” Baker said. “They got after him. Even the great quarterbacks, if they don’t got time, they can’t do anything. That was our game plan.
“He can make all the throws,” Baker continued. “He can make the right reads. That was one thing that I got from him. Even us playing him, he didn’t have that much time, there were good throws that he made. He’s going to be a great one in the future.”
Tannehill, meanwhile, is trying to be great in the present. He had some really good moments (two touchdown passes) and some really bad ones (the pick in the end zone was egregious) in Miami’s season-opening win over the Titans.
But no matter what he did last week, it was destined to be overshadowed by Darnold’s prime-time party.
Tannehill watched Monday night’s game with his wife Lauren, and like everyone else, came away impressed.
“He responded well,” Tannehill said. “Obviously [he had] the first play … but the way he responded was admirable. You definitely respect how he bounced back from that and found a way to lead his team and get a W.”