Mark Schofield’s RSP NFL Lens: QB Sam Darnold Winning the Cat-And-Mouse Game

RSP writer Mark Schofield takes his Tom and Jerry seriously and Sam Darnold’s display of cat-and-mouse with a defense is a promising sight for Darnold’s development. 

Growing up, I was not the biggest fan of cartoons or animated shows. But there were two shows that caught my attention, for vastly different reasons. One was “Starblazers,” an American version of a Japanese anime show “Space Battleship Yamato.” It told the story of a crew of space heroes setting off from Planet Earth, which has been crippled by radiation, in search of a cure before time runs out. Part of my fascination with the show was that the main vehicle was based on the World War II era Japanese battleship Yamato, albeit fitted for space travel and outfitted with a “wave motion gun” in front. It also had a pretty cool theme song:

Although to be honest, what is even cooler is seeing members of the Japanese Navy Band singing the theme to “Space Battleship Yamato:”

(By now you probably are wondering where, exactly, I am going with this, I’ll get there).

The other show I loved to watch was “Tom and Jerry.” I was fascinated with the battle of wits between the cat and the mouse, and my appreciation for this show has lingered into fatherhood, as my wife and I have tried to pass off our mutual love of this show onto our children. It has not exactly taken yet…

Which brings us to Sam Darnold.

From my time as a quarterback, to my time now analyzing the game, I remain fascinated by the battle of wits between a defense and the quarterback. When you hear people talk about quarterbacks you often hear them discuss “processing speed” as well as the ability to make good decisions when the pre-snap thoughts do not match up with the look from a defense in the post-snap phase. This is where you test the true mettle of a quarterback’s mentality. Can he react in the right manner and make the right decision, or does he freeze in these moments? It is something that concerned me with Mitch Trubisky, and the first play broken down in this First Sound episode is a great example:

Now let’s take a look at Darnold, and this play from his game against Washington. Before the play begins, Washington shows him a two-high safety look, and he probably thinks he can make an easy read and throw to the right side of the field, where he has a slant/flat route combination. But right before the snap, the safety to that side of the field rotates down to that side of the formation, and how Darnold responds tells us a lot about his potential:

Darnold does have a ways to go before he reaches his full potential as a quarterback, but in a sport that places a premium on making the right decisions – fast – Darnold seems to be ahead of the game. That bodes well for his development and should have New York Jets fans feeling pretty good about the future.

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Categories: 2018 NFL Draft, Mark Schofield, Matt Waldman, Players, QuarterbackTags: , , , ,

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