"We watched (his) college film, obviously", Bowles said of the 24-year-old, who spent two years out of football after a brief stint earlier this decade at the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
Since his first pass, which was taken back for Lions pick-six, Darnold has looked like a whole new player. On his first play from scrimmage, he threw an interception that Quandre Diggs returned 37 yards for a touchdown. Just 67 seconds later, the Jets scored again on a 78-yard punt return by Andre Roberts.
The Jets had played an National Football League record 73 games, dating to 2013, without a defensive TD before Lee returned one of his two interceptions 36 yards for a score in the third. He was also the first quarterback to win his first start by 31 or more points since Tom Brady in 2001, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Stafford threw four interceptions - one shy of his career high - and left the game briefly in the third quarter after being hit from the front and back by the swarming, hard-hitting Jets.
Almost everything went right for the Jets. Darnold faked a handoff left to Bilal Powell and rolled right.
We saw the Bucs beat the Saints, the Browns TIE the Steelers, and now the Jets blow out the Detroit Lions.More news: Rafael Nadal survives late-night marathon against Dominic Thiem
The Lions ended up with 39 yards on 15 carries. He made few mistakes during the preseason, but the Jets didn't exactly open up the playbook for him. He took advantage of it, moving the Jets to the end zone in five plays.
While Darnold and the offense were finding their groove, the Jets defense was dominating.
"The way he came in just set the tone right away", Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis said. NY completely buried the Lions in Detroit on Monday Night Football, and the exact moment it ended can be traced back to the third quarter. Their only first down came from a Jets penalty.
Claiborne, Jamal Adams and Trumaine Johnson also made interceptions.
Before halftime, Darnold delivered his best play of the night. He threw his first touchdown pass with 1:51 left in the first quarter. Darnold was still holding the ball while talking briefly with Stafford on the field. Looking at the whole season, though, Kearse, Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor make a pretty good top four.
After edging into a 17-10 half-time lead, the Jets cut loose in the third quarter, piling on 31 points to surge into a 48-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Jets stocked their defense with all these young starters, and then they added their hopeful face of the franchise.