There have been a lot of teams with quarterbacking controversies so far this season. The Indianapolis Colts had their drama with Matt Ryan and Sam Ehlinger. The San Francisco 49ers had their drama too back in the early weeks before Trey Lance got injured. But one of the enduring dramas in the NFL this season has been with the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers have never had any confidence in either Baker Mayfield or PJ Walker. Now, the Carolina Panthers are going with Sam Darnold to see if he can inject some life into the team’s offense. Darnold, himself, is a QB that the franchise hasn’t had confidence in in the past.
Baker Mayfield’s benching: part two
Baker Mayfield was benched earlier this season amidst offensive struggles. For a time, PJ Walker seemed to be viable relief. However, Walker has had some injury problems on top of struggling results. Last week, the Panthers went back to Mayfield.
The Carolina Panthers were up against the Baltimore Ravens last week in what looked like a tough game. However, Baltimore only managed 13 points in the contest, meaning that if Carolina brought a solid offensive game, then they might have had the chance for an upset. Unfortunately, Baker Mayfield’s offense managed just three points in the game. He had 2 INTs in the game, no passing touchdowns, and a passer rating in the mid-50s.
Sam Darnold will make his season debut
Darnold has not seen any playing time this season. He was Carolina’s starting quarterback last season but was benched amidst a plethora of INTs in the early going. He was 9-13 last season for TDs to INTs in 12 games. He had better stretches during his time with the New York Jets but has yet to realize the promise he seemed to have at the very start of his career.
The Panthers are 3-8 and, in the name of extreme optimism, still could hope to make the playoffs because they play in a weak division. However, other than that, this is a team with nothing to lose anymore: having a look to see if Sam Darnold has improved while on the sidelines is a smart move for this franchise to make. Darnold is still just 25 years old and with some growth, he might work himself into being a credible starter — which is exactly what the Panthers are missing in the QB position.
In regard to playoff hopes, Carolina is in a must-win position in Week 12. They host the Denver Broncos, a 3-7 team. As much as the Panthers have struggled, Denver has been more or less equal. It truly will be an open game when these two means on Sunday.
If Carolina gets to 4-8, then they will still have lots of work to do. However, entering the week, the team that leads their division, the Tampa Bay Bucs, has just 5 wins. It’s a rare 3-8 team that gets into the playoffs but Carolina is one of them as they look for their division’s automatic bid into the post-season. They clearly aren’t scared to try new things.