Carolina Panthers: Sam Darnold Will Be Better Than People Think
It’s a new day for the Carolina Panthers. After acquiring former first round pick Sam Darnold and trading away Teddy Bridgewater, the team looks to make a leap forward in this upcoming season. To be blunt, taking a look at Sam Darnold’s numbers on the New York Jets they do not exactly provide hope for Carolina fans that want to be excited about more than just their teams schedule release and hype videos.
In his career Darnold has a 13-25 win loss record with a 59.8 percent completion rate and 8,097 yards in three seasons. Chances are you’re like me and you look at some of those and go “eh” but the main one that sticks out is the win loss record which is horrendous. Luckily for Carolina Panthers fans, despite what some in the analytics community would have you believe this game is not played by computers. There is no insert disc that pops out of players heads where you download “trends” and math equations and then out comes the assumed hypothesized performance. There are two main reasons that Sam Darnold (barring injury of course) will do better in Carolina than he ever did for the Jets.
Different Head Coach
This first one seems like a cop out to some but the importance of matching up the right head coach with the right rookie talent can not be understated in this league. Who did Sam Darnold start with? Adam “Crazy Eyes” Gase. The head coach who’s meme popularity outdid his popularity with his own team. People look at Gase and say “well it must’ve been Darnold, after all he worked with Peyton Manning while with the Denver Broncos and he also worked with Ryan Tannehill and you can see how well he is doing now”. Maybe, and to be fair he did lead the Miami Dolphins to a 10-6 record that season with Ryan Tannehill as QB who missed three games.
The issue with the Broncos examples is something I like to call the Mike McCoy Fallacy. In short this is when an offensive coordinator gets put on a massive pedastool despite a veteran quarterback calling an audible on every single down. Gase didn’t do a thing that season. Peyton Manning is so famous for calling audibles that Omaha Steaks gave him a deal.
Also, almost every single one of his offensive coordinators that moved on to head coaching jobs ended up with losing records. The one that didn’t outside of Gase for one season? Mike McCoy who had Phillip Rivers as quarterback who calls as many if not more audibles than Peyton Manning did. For those that like trends, a story by Jetswire found that the majority of skill players previously coached by Gase had breakout seasons as soon as he left the organization. It’s highly likely looking at history that Darnold will become the next Ryan Tannehill now that he is in a new situation.
The second reason is because of the amount of times that he would be completely overlooked by many in the national media due to how horrendous his line and weapons were.
Dylan Ciorra of Sideline Sports wrote it perfectly when he said,
“At the very beginning of year 2, Darnold was sidelined for a month with mononucleosis, a disease that leaves victims often looking like they’ve just been to hell and back. Even after coming back from mono, Darnold was pressured at the highest rate in the NFL, on 42% of his dropbacks. When pressured at league average rate, Darnold led the Jets to a record of 7-1 and the offense scored an average of 29 points per game. LEAGUE AVERAGE RATE! Imagine what Darnold could do with an OL that is not only average, but slightly ABOVE average?”
I understand that’s all well and good but what has the Carolina Panthers done for him lately. According to an article out of Sports Illustrated, they did because, “Matt Rhule and Joe Brady are elite developers of talent and most importantly, they believe in him”. That’s a bit too fluffy for my taste though. Let’s take a look at who they actually have that’s going to be in the offense with him below. These are the projected starters for the Carolina Panthers in 2021.
Better Than NY
Without even doing a lot of research one can notice that these names already prepare him better than anyone on the Jets ever have. The receivers and running backs alone help set up Darnold for success and the coaches believe in him. That particular combo makes Carolina possibly the best situation for Darnold to go into.
I understand with these factors above that there is still a chance he could end up stinking big time. However looking at the new culture he’s walking into, along with the team mates he has combined with the obvious trend of Adam Gase led players ending up exploding as soon as they are out from under his thumb. This means that Sam Darnold could surprise a lot of people in the 2021 Carolina Panthers season. It’s also important to end on the note that yes. he was 13-25 with the Jets, but without Darnold, the Jets did not win any games.
How do you think Sam Darnold will do in Carolina? Leave a comment below..
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Photo Credit: @Panthers on Twitter