It’s hard to understand Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule.
He gave high praise for quarterback Sam Darnold when they acquired him from the New York Jets.
He thought that they were getting a bargain because they only surrendered a 2021 sixth-round pick and a 2022 fourth-rounder to trade for the former USC standout.
Rhule thought that the new environment would help the young quarterback thrive.
In the beginning, it did help that Darnold had versatile running back Christian McCaffrey, as shown by their 3-0 start.
Unfortunately, things unraveled when McCaffrey got injured and Darnold’s true colors came out.
After all, he is the type of quarterback that will perform well if all of the pieces around him are present.
Darnold’s struggles prompted Rhule to declare the quarterback position open for the 2022 season.
But as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler shared, Rhule made another subtle U-turn regarding last year’s starter.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he expects ‘significantly improved’ football from Sam Darnold this year. Carolina will likely add a quarterback in some form but Darnold still in the mix.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 29, 2022
Fowler tweeted, “Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he expects ‘significantly improved’ football from Sam Darnold this year. Carolina will likely add a quarterback in some form but Darnold still in the mix.”
Accuracy and decision-making will be the top two aspects that Rhule will want to see Darnold improve.
But even if he showed tremendous upgrades, he will have to compete for the starting position because the Panthers would like more contenders for the role.
Not Sold On Darnold
The Panthers seem to be playing with words because they can’t admit that they are moving away from Darnold.
They are hoping that he can turn things around and make the team competitive against NFC South teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints.
Yet in some ways, the Panthers are already preparing for the inevitable.
After seeing Darnold for one season, they are looking for solutions elsewhere.