In yet another turn at the least stable position in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers have decided to move off of Baker Mayfield. The former No. 1 overall pick came up flat once again in Week 11, failing to kickstart the offense in a game where his defense held the Baltimore Ravens to just 13 points.
Now, the Panthers will turn to their third starting quarterback of the 2022 campaign—Sam Darnold.
Darnold has been recovering from a high-ankle sprain—one he sustained in the preseason finale against the Buffalo Bills back on Aug. 26. But now that he’s had almost three months to heal, he’s up for his first nod of the year.
Given what we saw from Darnold in 2021, this move does have a tinge of desperation to it. Despite his strong start, where he led the Panthers to a 3-0 mark while passing for 888 yards and just one interception, he’d quickly flame out—finishing the season tossing 12 picks to just six touchdowns.
But, there is seemingly no other option on the roster that has been able to bring stability to this offense. The former USC standout will now, perhaps, get his last chance to prove he can be a starter in this league.
There is some optimism for a potential rejuvenation of the maligned quarterback, as he has the strongest and most capable arm on the team. That should lead to a more daring game plan from offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, one that’ll include more shots down the field.
Darnold will also be able to lean on a steadfast ground game and a solid defense. So if he can manage to hold on to the rock and sprinkle in a few splash plays, the Panthers should have a real shot at topping the visiting Denver Broncos.
Stat projection: 14-of-22, 190 passing yards one touchdown, one interception, 40 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown