What to Expect From Sam Darnold Next Season

Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets carries the ball. Billie Weiss/Getty Images/AFP
Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets carries the ball. Billie Weiss/Getty Images/AFP

The Carolina Panthers made a move to improve their QB position when giving up their 6th round pick this year and a 2nd and a 4th in 2022. But what can we expect from Darnold for next season?

The Panthers gave Teddy Bridgewater to prove himself when they brought him in as their starting QB last year, and in fairness, I thought he did all that was expected of him. The team was without their stud running back for most of the season as Christian McCaffrey played 3 games, and none of them at full health.

Teddy finished the year with 15 TDs, 11 INTs in 15 games, averaging 248 yards per game and providing the Panthers with 2x 1,000 yard players as DJ Moore and Robby Anderson went over that mark, so can Sam Darnold improve on those numbers?

His Time in NY

Darnold had a rough time in NY, he started his debut season as the youngest week 1 starting QB in history and did all right for the first few weeks, but the league took its toll on him and video of him saying he was “seeing ghosts” in a rough game against the Patriots arrived on people’s radars, not a good look for a starting QB in the league.

His second year was disrupted by catching Mono early on and he never seemed healthy after that, and his third year was hit by a shoulder injury early on as well.

So while he’s started 12+ games in each of the three years he’s been in the league, he’s never had a full healthy season without any issues, and frankly, he’s never had any decent coaching with Adam Gase taking over from Todd Bowles after his debut year. The record of players “escaping” Gases’ coaching has been impressive with the likes of Ryan Tannehill improving markedly after getting away.

He finished his career at the Jets with 38 starts, 45 TDs:39 INTs, averaging 213 yards per game.

Can He Prove Why He Was Chosen 3rd Overall Just Four Years Ago?

Sam Darnold now has 38 games as a starter in the NFL, yet he’s still younger than Joe Burrow who’s coming into his sophomore year in the league. To have that kind of experience at a young age should allow him to get over his time in the league so far.

It’s safe to say he’s not been dealt a good hand, yet the Panthers have taken a chance on him and they’ll be hoping teaming him up with Matt Rhule at Head coach and Joe Brady as his offensive co-ordinator will help him regain some form. Rhule has done well turning around college programs while Brady coached Joe Burrow to a Heisman trophy in his final year at LSU.

It’s instantly the best coaching he’s had in his time in the league and providing he’s not been broken by Bowles/Gase there’s hope for him yet.

Do They Have Players to Help Him?

The Panthers have a decent young roster around Darnold, and should add to that with the 8th pick in the draft this year. There’s a chance that Penei Sewell could drop into their laps to give some elite protection to Darnold, if not they could get another WR or even Kyle Pitts at TE if they get very lucky with the picks before them. They chose exclusively on the defensive side of the ball last year so I think it will be an offensive pick of some kind.

Whomever comes in will go alongside Christian McCaffrey, a 2,000 yards a year player when healthy, Robby Anderson (who Darnold has experience of playing), DJ Moore who both hit 1,000 yards last year as well as David Moore who was signed in free agency and can provide a redzone threat.

The Panthers have been given a win total of 7.5 wins among the best online bookmakers, I think they’d be happy with 8 wins this season.

Darnold has the best talent, and best coaching he’s had since he came into the league, it’s up to him now to prove that he can be the player they want him to be, he’s still young and with a fresh start I’m hopeful he can make the most of his opportunity.

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