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The USC product went an ugly 21-of-39 for 229 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions during the low-scoring affair, and linebacker Jerome Baker returned one of his picks for the only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter to put Miami up by two scores.
“There’s no excuse for how I played out there,” Darnold said, per Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “I’ve got to play better.”
Darnold didn’t want to make excuses, but he didn’t get much help in the running game. The Jets tallied 21 rushes for just 80 yards behind an offensive line Football Outsiders ranked as 30th in the league in run blocking through eight weeks.
A strong rushing attack would help take the pressure off the rookie’s shoulders and force opponents to put additional defenders in the box, which would in turn open more passing lanes.
Still, Darnold has struggled at times this year and has 11 touchdown passes to 14 interceptions. Sunday was his fourth multi-interception game in nine tries, although he expanded on what he has to do as the season continues.
“I’ve just got to be sharper,” he said. “I have to have a better plan once I get to the line of scrimmage. I’ve just got to know exactly where to go with the ball, and if one or two is not there [in the read progression], go to three. I’ve just got to have a better plan.”
The Jets have lost three in a row and are now 3-6 as they appear well on their way to an eighth straight season with no playoffs.
However, Darnold will ideally be the franchise quarterback for a decade-plus, and the learning experiences from this season figure to benefit him throughout his career.