The Carolina Panthers held the eighth pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Instead, they traded for former USC standout Sam Darnold in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2021 and second and fourth-round selections in 2022.
The move made Teddy Bridgewater expendable, and the Panthers traded him to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick.
jets fans seeing the panthers 3-0 with sam darnold pic.twitter.com/ZLdAJz2fcu
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 24, 2021
So far, the trades are paying off for the former and current Panthers starting quarterbacks.
Bridgewater has helped Denver remain undefeated after games against the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Meanwhile, Darnold is having a resurgence with Carolina after three games.
The Panthers have won all three games as Darnold is finally living up to the hype that surrounded him in 2018.
Sam Darnold is dialed in 👀
— PFF (@PFF) September 24, 2021
The New York Jets thought that the California native would turn things around.
However, he played three seasons in the Big Apple to mixed results.
He was showing flashes of brilliance and moments of mediocrity while playing for the Jets.
As a result, Darnold threw 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in three seasons with New York.
Unfortunately, the Jets were not willing to gamble with an inaccurate quarterback and drafted Zach Wilson in hopes of an upgrade.
Bill Belichick after Zach Wilson threw 4 INTs
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 19, 2021
But Darnold got the chance to prove that his former team made the wrong decision when the Panthers and the Jets clashed in Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Wilson had a nice performance with 20 completions for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
However, Darnold had the last laugh with 279 yards, a touchdown pass, and a 19-14 victory.
That performance was a prelude to better games to come from the 24-year-old quarterback.
No Way But Up For Darnold
Darnold and the Panthers faced the division rival New Orleans Saints in Week 2.
Jameis Winston and the Saints came off a dominating 38-3 performance against the Green Bay Packers.
However, the Panthers limited their opponents to seven points and picked off Winston twice.
In contrast, Darnold also threw an interception but had 26 completions for 305 yards and two touchdowns.
He also completed 68 percent of his passes and converted eight of their 15 third-down opportunities.
Carolina also had 28 first downs, while New Orleans only had six.
But Darnold was just getting started.
Against Houston, he finished with 23 passes for 304 yards and added two rushing touchdowns.
Sam Darnold is now tied for the league lead in rushing TDs. pic.twitter.com/12Ub0t8fGO
— NFL (@NFL) September 24, 2021
He already has two 300-yard passing games, which was halfway through his record of four with the Jets.
This three-game win streak is the second of his career, the first being Weeks 10 to 12 of the 2019 season.
More importantly, he only has one interception compared to three touchdowns.
Darnold has 888 passing yards through three games and a 68.2 completion percentage.
He is also averaging 8.3 yards per completion.
Darnold looks comfortable in offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s system and gains confidence through the people playing around him.
Sam Darnold has 888 passing yards this season, the 2nd-most during a 3-0 start by any QB making his first 3 starts with a team.
He trails only Kurt Warner, who had 894 passing yards in the first 3 starts of his 1999 MVP season with the Rams. pic.twitter.com/R7CFMP3O5w
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 24, 2021
Moore finished the Houston game with eight catches for 126 yards.
Meanwhile, Chuba Hubbard filled in for the injured McCaffrey and tallied 52 rushing yards.
Despite the impressive performances of their skill players, Darnold is doing a fantastic job as the straw that stirs the drink.
He looks to continue his hot streak in Week 4 against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.