FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Joe Namath, he's not.
Sam Darnold won't be wearing a fur coat any time soon and he won't be showing up in the gossip pages with Hollywood starlets. The New York Jets rookie turned 21 on Tuesday, but he didn't see it was a party opportunity. Asked how he planned to celebrate, he said, "Play football."
Not even an adult beverage now that he's legal?
"Probably not," Darnold said. "Probably just going to stay in and go to sleep early, like I've been doing every single night."
He's a grinder, and his 24/7 approach to his new job is starting to reveal itself on the field. In the third week of OTA practices, Darnold is way ahead of where he was in the first week. He's making quicker decisions and showing better pocket presence.
On Tuesday, the eighth practice (third open to the media), Darnold completed 14 of 19 passes in team drills, including 6-for-6 with the first team. There were a couple of hiccups (an interception and a fumbled shotgun snap, both with the backups), but you can't expect him to be flawless. The important thing is that he's showing progress.
"I'm making a ton of strides," he said. "At the same time, I'm not exactly where I want to be. It's going to take time and it's a process. I'm aware of that. It's exciting, though, to be able to understand the playbook the way I am and the strides that I'm making. I'm really excited about where I'm going right now."
This is an adjustment for Darnold because he's learning to call plays in the huddle. Like a lot of college quarterbacks, he played in a no-huddle offense and didn't have the flexibility to change plays. Now, in the huddle, he has to look his teammates in the eye, call the play and do it in a manner that exudes confidence. Mumbling isn't the ideal way to earn the trust of your veteran teammates.
"He's more comfortable with the playbook," coach Todd Bowles said. "Obviously, seeing things for a second time will make you more comfortable. [He's] everything we thought coming in: Works every day. Wants to be good. Understands the mistakes he makes and he works at them night and day. Watches film, asks questions. ... When he makes a mistake, he doesn't make the same one twice."
You listen to Darnold, who likes to use the words "awesome" and "exciting," and he sounds as if he's loving life. What's not to love? When he signs his contract, he'll receive a guaranteed $30 million over four years. This is his dream job -- 24/7 football.
"To be able to come in here every single day and do this for a living," he said, "it's pretty sweet."