The New York Jets’ already intriguing quarterback competition just got a lot more interesting thanks to a poised Sam Darnold and a sharp Teddy Bridgewater.
Josh McCown is still No. 1 on the depth chart, but the other two quarterbacks made big-time statements in the Jets’ 17-0 preseason-opening victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.
“We’ll see how the preseason goes,” coach Todd Bowles said. “I’ll make my decision when it happens. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions after one game. I’m going to take my notes and watch practice and compare with the coaches and we’ll come up with a decision. It’s a tough decision.
“We have three good players and we’re happy to have them.”
Bowles has said that the competition could last through the fourth preseason game, and he didn’t back off that when asked if that were still the case.
“Probably,” the coach said in his typically understated fashion.
While Bowles isn’t about to start making any premature proclamations, there was plenty for the Jets and their fans to get excited about.
McCown played just one series and was replaced by Bridgewater, who led New York to scores on both of his possessions. Then, Darnold jogged onto the field at MetLife Stadium to an ovation befitting a guy considered by many to be the savior of the franchise.
The No. 3 overall pick in the draft showed poise, accuracy, playmaking ability on the run and veteran-like cool in his NFL debut.
“I thought I played pretty good,” Darnold said. “I think I just put the ball where it needed to be, tried to get it in the hands of our playmakers.”
The former USC star completed 13 of 18 passes for 96 yards, including a touchdown pass to Charles Johnson during which he rolled right and zipped the football into the end zone to his receiver while on the run. That came after Darnold brushed off a drop and an offensive pass interference penalty — both on Johnson — leading to the score.
Darnold was quick to point out a negative moment, namely when he was sacked by Jonathan Celestin in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like I could’ve gotten that ball out on the shallow (route) there, but you live and you learn I guess,” he said. “So, I’m just going to watch the tape and see really what exactly happened on some of the plays, but I thought I did pretty well. I took care of the football, which was my main priority.”
Bridgewater was also impressive in his Jets debut, showing flashes of the player who was a Pro Bowl selection with the Vikings before a severe knee injury sidelined him for most of the last two years.
“It felt good getting hit again,” Bridgewater said with a smile. “You never want the quarterback getting hit, but for me, it was the final step of the process. Got hit, got right back up and it just served as a reminder that the game is still the same.”
Bridgewater completed 7 of 8 passes for 85 yards, and looked every bit like a starting-caliber quarterback — for New York or perhaps another team as potential trade bait if Darnold continues to progress rapidly and leaves no doubt as to who should be under center when the Jets open the regular season at Detroit.
“If you’re a football fan and you enjoy the sport, it’s fun to be a part of,” McCown said. “And to get a front-row seat and more importantly to just go out and want to see them accomplish the things that we talk about in our quarterback room on a daily basis is huge and they did that and so we couldn’t be happier. I’m really excited for them and now it’s back to work.”
New York Jets linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis has been suspended by the NFL for the first game of the regular season without pay for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Pierre-Louis was arrested and charged in January with several misdemeanors, including possession of marijuana, after a traffic stop in suburban Kansas City.
The 26-year-old Pierre-Louis is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games, but has been sidelined by an undisclosed injury and didn’t play against Atlanta on Friday night. He has 84 career tackles in parts of four seasons with Seattle and Kansas City.
The Kansas City Chiefs have placed offensive lineman Dillon Gordon on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury, while running back Charcandrick West returned to the practice field following a concussion. Kansas City signed offensive lineman Alex Officer to take Gordon’s place. … The Tennessee Titnas agreed to terms with cornerbacks Kenneth Durden and Trey Caldwell and waived cornerbacks Joseph Este and Jarell Carter.
3:40 p.m.: This report has been updated with news that Kevin Pierre-Louis has been suspended.
This report was originally published at 12:30 p.m.