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Hope, but be real. We don't know what Darnold is, but that's OK.


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Waiting for camp to start always seems like a long process, but admittedly it was a little shorter for me this summer, as I kept myself busy. Now that I've turned more of my attention back towards the Panthers, the biggest question remains, and that would be Sam Darnold.

It's easy to feel good about Darnold when buying into the narrative that he sucked because the Jets sucked and now Rhule and company have freed Darnold from a sentence of 3 years to bust. Everything's gonna be alright, and he's going to lead us to the glory of the Lombardi trophy risen above every head in Panthers' nation. But, then again, there are short articles like this one by our friend, Tim Weaver, who rightfully summon the spirits of skepticism to dance with all those feel-good fairies at the forefront of our minds about the coming 2021 season. 

 

"According to Pro Football Focus, Darnold has the lowest passing grade (55.7) from a clean pocket since the 2018 season. Bridgewater ranked No. 32 in that stat last year, while Darnold ranked dead last at No. 39.

"Perhaps the most critical area that needs improvement for Carolina’s offense is in the red zone. In 2020, they consistently had trouble getting over the goal line and finished the year No. 28 in red zone scoring percentage. This is another area Darnold has struggled in, though. PFF says Darnold’s passer rating in the red zone (77.6) is also the lowest in the league going back to 2018."

 

These are things we may may or may not have heard before, but they are a reminders to be honest with ourselves that all we have right now is hope. Our season will largely go how Darnold goes. It's kind of "funny" but, we're hoping based upon his orbit around a black hole of suck--the Jets organization for years--that Rhule, Brady and company have enough pull to lead Darnold from a certain path of destruction to a place where he can shine and lead our team to the place where upper echelon teams exist on an annual basis. Yes, a few may ponder whether Darnold wasn't at the center of the suck himself, but I will tell you that I don't believe that he'll be allowed to suck the Panthers franchise down a black hole, because there are already too many forces that will not just sit by and let it happen. Make no mistake, the 2021 season will be the last potential sacrifice that Rhule, and, more importantly, David Tepper will allow.

MY advice: keep hope alive, but also keep your expectations down to earth. Don't set your heart on Darnold being the savior, but don't dismiss his potential and the ability for our staff to accentuate his strengths and hopefully minimize his faults. Wait and see, but keep your mind open. At the end of the day, when the balance sheet is reconciled, there's really not enough invested in him--at this point--to raise our hands and thank our lucky stars, or to weep and gnash our teeth. We'll have a better idea of what he is in three months, and we'll have even better answers as to what we really have in a front office some time after that. 

Edited by top dawg
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8 minutes ago, LinvilleGorge said:

All we can do is wait and see. My expectations and hope are pretty low. We've beat the horse to death in terms of talking about it. I'll be very pleasantly surprised if I'm proven wrong.

Unlike last year, it's somewhat refreshing to feel like there is actually potential for upside at the QB position even if the odds are slim. Agreed that overall expectations are low overall. 

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2 minutes ago, LinvilleGorge said:

All we can do is wait and see. My expectations and hope are pretty low. We've beat the horse to death in terms of talking about it. I'll be very pleasantly surprised if I'm proven wrong.

I don't know. I just find it kind of funny funny that Panthers fans' optimisim is essentially and inevitably tied to how bad Darnold sucked as a Jet and who is mostly to blame for that. It can't just be that Darnold has a lot of untouched potential full stop! It's funny in an odd sense, but somewhat ludicrous as well. Our soap opera may not be the best going (*cough* Watson or maybe even Dak), but it's compelling. And, don't throw in the subplot on lake Michigan.

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2 minutes ago, KSpan said:

Unlike last year, it's somewhat refreshing to feel like there is actually potential for upside at the QB position even if the odds are slim. Agreed that overall expectations are low overall. 

Definitely agree with this. I can envision a scenario where Darnold can be the answer. Quite frankly I don't think the odds of that are all that good, but they are there. With Teddy, I just didn't see that at all and that's why I was so adamantly against that move. To be fair, I was adamantly against this move as well but I do see some potential for it actually working out where with Teddy I saw none.

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21 minutes ago, top dawg said:

"According to Pro Football Focus, Darnold has the lowest passing grade (55.7) from a clean pocket since the 2018 season. Bridgewater ranked No. 32 in that stat last year, while Darnold ranked dead last at No. 39."

Bridgewater should be the factor that leads to caution in all this. There was skepticism around him early on too but some people engaged in shouting down dissent and we see how that ended. Luckily Sam has tools that Teddy lacked. We know he has the arm strength we seek. It's if the decision making lines up then we're set. We hope.

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The last couple of times we brought in a QB from elsewhere to either be the #1 or compete for the #1 QB slot we got Jake Delhomme and Steve Beuerlein.  We tend to acquire veteran QBs better than we draft them.  Cam (and perhaps Collins) being the exception, but missing on the #1 overall pick would have been pretty atrocious. 

For that reason...and the Jets factor, I'm fairly optimistic about Darnold.

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The question for everyone has been why did Darnold suck, when the only question to answer is what will it take for Darnold to have a great year this season. If you agree that Darnold had the physical tools to be great and that he wants to be coached and is doing everything he has been told to do, then what will derail him?  Are poor decisions due to limited intelligence, impulsive behavior or PTSD responses? Or are they do to poor coaching and poor scheme? Is he the problem or a symptom of a larger problem. I hope the coaches are as good as advertised and will devise a scheme which showcases Darnold's talent. I hope Darnold plays within the scheme and recognizes that he isn't the best athlete on the field so get the ball to those that are. And I hope that we give him the whole 2 years to get this scheme down pat based on good but not great play this year.  He has all the things he needs for success now we we allow it to unfold. I am going to be on board the Darnold train as long as it rolls. 

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15 minutes ago, panthers55 said:

And I hope that we give him the whole 2 years to get this scheme down pat based on good but not great play this year.  

I hope we give him two years if he earns a second year with his first year's performance. One thing that gives me hope that we won't get stuck in purgatory with Darnold is how quickly we were willing to move on from Teddy. I just don't know how much of that decision had to do with Teddy throwing the staff under the bus later in the season after missing a wide open DJ in the endzone. Was it the primary reason (or a symptom of the primary reason - that being that Teddy proved to be less coachable than they hoped)? Was it the straw that broke the camel's back and confirmed the direction they were already leaning? Or, did it have no impact at all? If I was a betting man, I'd bet on scenario B but that's just a hunch. The organizational PR stance on Teddy certainly took a pretty obvious turn after that, that's for sure so I really don't think it's scenario C. If it's scenario A then I have some serious concerns about the egos on the staff.

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3 minutes ago, frankw said:

Bridgewater should be the factor that leads to caution in all this. There was skepticism around him early on too but some people engaged in shouting down dissent and we see how that ended. Luckily Sam has tools that Teddy lacked. We know he has the arm strength we seek. It's if the decision making lines up then we're set. We hope.

One thing about Bridgewater is that I believe expectations were a little higher because we had all heard about his ball security and decision making. At the end of the day, on that front, we were sold a bill of goods--Teddy flipped the script! Plus, he turned out to be somewhat of an understated blamer (though I could be being petty). 

With Darnold, we shouldn't have high expectations to be honest. He flashed relatively very little among sucking a lot. Honestly, he's been a near-classic bust so far. The only thing that saves him from having that title more entrenched is the orbit that he was in. He got a mulligan because of it. Now, all we can hope is that he's Cinderfella.

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3 minutes ago, LinvilleGorge said:

I hope we give him two years if he earns a second year with his first year's performance. One thing that gives me hope that we won't get stuck in purgatory with Darnold is how quickly we were willing to move on from Teddy. I just don't know how much of that decision had to do with Teddy throwing the staff under the bus later in the season after missing a wide open DJ in the endzone. Was it the primary reason (or a symptom of the primary reason - that being that Teddy proved to be less coachable than they hoped)? Was it the straw that broke the camel's back and confirmed the direction they were already leaning? Or, did it have no impact at all? If I was a betting man, I'd bet on scenario B but that's just a hunch. The organizational PR stance on Teddy certainly took a pretty obvious turn after that, that's for sure so I really don't think it's scenario C. If it's scenario A then I have some serious concerns about the egos on the staff.

I thought that a big reason was Bridgewater didn't get better as the season unfolded. He failed to thrown it downfield even when it was wide open or it was the fourth quarter and we were behind. He didn't show urgency or any ability to rally the team.  I imagine the negative press wasn't as big a deal as his big guaranteed salary. 

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