The Carolina Panthers have a new quarterback for the 2021 season.
He is Sam Darnold.
Darnold, the former New York Jet, is only 23 years old.
His marriage with the Jets was not good for either side, and Darnold will be a much better player in Carolina.
How good can he be?
No one knows for sure, but his game should improve for the following reasons:
Recent Organizational Success And Consistent Coaching
Darnold had two head coaches in his three year tenure with the Jets.
They were Todd Bowles and Adam Gase.
The Jets never finished higher than third place in the AFC East while Darnold was there, finishing 13-35 from 2018-2020.
In recent years, Carolina has been a more winning franchise.
Sam Darnold says the attention to detail in Panthers' organization is "one of a kind." He cites David Tepper, Scott Fitterer and Matt Rhule.
— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 12, 2021
The Panthers won the AFC South division for three straight seasons from 2013-2015.
With Cam Newton‘s leadership, the Panthers also advanced to the Super Bowl in 2015, losing to the Denver Broncos.
Carolina’s Coach Matt Rhule came from the college ranks to coach the Panthers in 2020; he knows how to lead an organization in flux.
Rhule is credited with turning around the Temple Owls’ football program from a 2-10 team in 2013 to a 10-3 team in 2016.
He knows that Darnold is still developing as an NFL quarterback so the Panthers need to provide solid coaching for him.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) April 12, 2021
Sam Darnold took the high road when he was with the Jets, but he knows that they never gave him adequate support. https://t.co/L2WSp470GS
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaSports) April 12, 2021
The Jets never built around Sam Darnold.
Darnold walks into a team that has running back Christian McCaffrey on the roster.
Of course, Darnold and Carolina need a healthy McCaffrey for 2021 to be successful.
McCaffrey played only 3 games in 2020 before suffering a trifecta of injuries including a high ankle sprain, separation of the AC joint in his shoulder, and a pulled quadricep muscle.
“I had my ankle, which was bad. (I) did what I could to come back, came back, felt good and hurt my shoulder. Then, while I was rehabbing my shoulder, I pulled my quad pretty much. It was just kind of one thing after another and at the end of the day, we just decided to shut it down.”
Coach Rhule is optimistic about McCaffrey’s offseason preparations and health leading into 2021.
“I think Christian is going to enter this offseason with real perspective about what he needs to do for his body moving forward and, unlike some guys, more is more. For him, it might just be like he has to take some time and recover and then hit 2021 running and hit it full speed.”
The Panthers had two wide receivers with over 1,000 yards in 2020.
These are tools that can certainly help Darnold.
Rhule Is Committed To Darnold
Matt Rhule on new QB Sam Darnold: "He's tough minded, he's competitive … he can fit the ball into tight windows, he can create with his feet. I think his arm talent and movement are a great fit for the players we have here." pic.twitter.com/c0INi3LpYU
— Marc Whiteman (@MarcWYFFNews4) April 12, 2021
Whereas the Jets waivered in their confidence and commitment to Darnold’s development, Coach Rhule likes Darnold.
When Rhule interviewed for the Jets head coaching job in 2019, he met with Darnold.
Though he did not get the job, he became a fan of Sam Darnold.
With the right coaching and supporting players, Darnold can succeed in Carolina, and the Panters are committed to giving Darnold this much needed second chance.NEXT: What The Sam Darnold Trade Means For Teddy Bridgewater