Darnold Sheds His Flight Stripes, Ready to Pound in Carolina
After the 2020 season, it seemed likely that the New York Jets would move on from quarterback Sam Darnold. It was somewhat of a surprise who pulled that trigger on the trade — the Carolina Panthers. Carolina sent the Jets a 2021 6th round pick along with a 2nd and 4th rounders in 2022. Foregoing a chance at one of the draft’s top rookie quarterbacks, Carolina decided instead to roll the dice on Darnold.
The former 3rd overall pick from 2018, didn’t have an enjoyable time in East Rutherford. The franchise turned into a basket case, and Darnold became a victim of circumstance. That’s not to say he didn’t have his own issues. After being thrust straight into the starting role in week 1, Darnold has had injury and turnover issues in all 3 of his seasons in the NFL.
To date, Darnold has thrown for 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. That TD/INT ratio needs to greatly improve, as does his PFF grade. Last year’s 58.4 was the lowest of the expected starting quarterbacks in 2021, with the exception of Jalen Hurts, who only started 4 games for the Philadelphia Eagles in his rookie season. The Jets were such a mess I believe it would have been impossible for any quarterback to be successful. This is why I believe in the new surroundings in Carolina, Sam Darnold can be a success for the Panthers.
There’s no substitute for it. Experience is everything, and Darnold has 3 years as a starter behind. It’s been the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — mostly the latter two. But he has gotten through it and landed a second chance in a starting role. Darnold can draw on his experience in the league to make himself a better player going forward.
Belief from the Front Office and Coaches
As I’ve already said, the Panthers could have gone down the route of drafting their future quarterback. Without having to move, Justin Fields and Mac Jones would have been available where the Panthers selected at pick 8. Instead, they went for Darnold, a move reportedly favored by Head Coach Matt Rhule. For the first time, Rhule has a quarterback in place, that can be considered “his guy”. The success of the pair will be linked from here on, if Darnold isn’t a success, it could spell the end for Rhule. The motivation to give Darnold everything he needs to be a success is high.
This brings us to the weapons Darnold will have in Carolina. One of the best Running Backs in the game is Christian McCaffrey, whose ability in the passing game should help Darnold’s stats. Wide Receiver duo DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, are a talented pair who have the potential to be amongst the top pairings in the league if they have consistently good quarterback play. Dan Arnold was brought in at Tight End, after a breakout year in Arizona that he will look to build on. Add in an offensive line that should be at least middle of the pack, rather than the Jets line that was among the worst in the league. Darnold shouldn’t be running for his life on a consistent basis. His weapons and protection this season will be better than anything he’s had in the past.
Offensive Coordinator That Can Get The Best Out of Him
Joe Brady won a national championship at LSU as passing game coordinator, before becoming Offensive Coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Brady helped develop Joe Burrow into the Quarterback he was coming into the NFL. The Panthers will be hoping he can not only improve Darnold as a player but also develop a scheme that he can thrive in. Based on his strengths, many of which are similar to that of Joe Burrow. Playing in Carolina under Matt Rhule and Joe Brady is the right place for Sam Darnold. I firmly believe this will be the year it comes together for Darnold and will be the beginning of a successful run as the Carolina Panthers Quarterback.