With the draft in the books and the Panthers sticking with Sam Darnold as the starting quarterback despite Justin Fields still being on the board when the team picked at number 8 what makes the coaching staff so sure they’ve got their guy? With PFF ranking Darnold the 64th best QB in 2020 what does Matt Rhule see in the former USC Trojan?
In the coming weeks we’ve got a deep dive prepared on Sam Darnold that will help show what exactly the upside is in Darnold that the staff think they can bring out. But right now let’s jump in with the 3 reasons that Darnold will come good as a Panther.
1: SAM DARNOLD HAD ZERO WEAPONS
In 2020 Darnold’s top targets were Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Braxton Berrios, and Chris Herndon. In 16 combined seasons in the NFL those four targets have NOT A SINGLE 1,000 yard season. That’s right DJ Moore has more 1,000 yard seasons than the whole NY Jets receiving corps combined. Think about that.
You can blame the QB as much as you want to, and sure Darnold has made bad reads, bad decisions, and bad throws, but you still need receivers who can catch the ball.
2: ADAM GASE IS A QB KILLER
The myth that Adam Gase is a QB whisperer is predicated solely on the fact he coached Peyton Manning…in Denver? Already a SB winner in Indy, Manning did have one of the best seasons ever by a QB while he was coached by Gase, but to think Gase did that is just plain silly.
In his time with Ryan Tannehill, Tannehill regressed in no small part because Gase compresses every offence he coaches. Everything happens within 10 yards of the line and this makes life so much harder for the QB. In his 7-years of coaching since he coached Peyton Manning to the number 1 scoring offence, Gase’s teams haven’t cracked the top 20 offences even once.
Look at Ryan Tannehill since he was freed from Adam Gase.
3: CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY
The Panthers have arguably the number one offensive weapon in all of football and if there’s one thing that makes a QB’s job easier it’s an elite RB. Think back to how Todd Gurley made Jared Goff look like a winning QB. And Goff doesn’t have the ceiling that Sam Darnold has.
McCaffrey’s ability to make yard inside and outside, and on the pass will help bring the safety down and create space in behind for Sam Darnold to hit DJ Moore, and Robby Anderson over the top. CMC makes everything easier for the QB and Darnold will be in am much better place to succeed with him on the field.