Remember the time when he looked like a different player after transferring from the New York Jets?
That time seemed so long ago when it was just six weeks into the past.
He does not look confident in making his throws, and grim outcomes unravel even if he performs the same mechanics.
Sam Darnold has thrown 10 picks in five Panthers losses this season. 😬 pic.twitter.com/x3CY1m1jYf
— theScore (@theScore) November 8, 2021
Undoubtedly, Darnold is one of the more physically gifted quarterbacks in the NFL as of today.
But his mental fortitude and football IQ are still a struggle, even if he’s already a pro quarterback for three and a half seasons.
No one in the locker room would believe Matt Rhule if he still vouched for Darnold as their best option to win even after his lousy outing against the New England Patriots.
After throwing for three interceptions and zero touchdowns, here’s what the former USC stalwart validated for the worst.
It’s Easy To Rattle Him Mentally
Bill Belichick is one of the most cerebral coaches in the game because he always exploits his advantage against the other team’s quarterback.
That’s why his dominance over Darnold continued even if the quarterback switched teams.
Belichick knew his tendencies too well because of their AFC East battles.
Therefore, the Patriots forced him to commit the same mental lapses even if he commanded a different offense.
Sam Darnold vs. Bill Belichick
🏈 0-4 Against the Spread
🏈 0-4 Straight Up
🏈 1 TD
🏈 9 INT
🏈 2 Fumbles Lost
👻 👻 👻 👻 pic.twitter.com/nlQIRC2hPi
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 8, 2021
It’s no wonder why J.C. Jackson read two of his passes perfectly for interceptions, with one of them returned for a touchdown.
He’s a different thrower when he has good protection compared to getting pressured.
Because Belichick knows this very well, Darnold has one touchdown and nine interceptions in his games versus the Patriots.
Some things never change, and that’s bad news for the Panthers.
He’s Not A Good Passer Outside The Pocket
That pick-six by Jackson was awful because Darnold missed his intended receiver by a mile.
The pass was too high, and it went directly to Jackson’s hands.
Darnold also rolled out to his left, and that scenario caused trouble for the Panthers all day.
JC Jackson intercepts Sam Darnold and returns it 88 yards for the touchdown.
His fourth interception of the season. pic.twitter.com/Pta8nfhtYM
— Speak Up (@_SpeakU) November 7, 2021
He did not complete any of his six throws outside the pocket either.
Worse, he threw two interceptions by getting away from the offensive line’s protection.
Carolina’s men upfront did reveal some issues throughout the game.
But those issues do not spare Darnold from his avoidable blunders.
Darnold Is A Bad Investment
There’s a chance that he corrects all his inconsistencies and becomes the franchise quarterback they seek.
Sadly, that’s not going to happen until he loses his job.
He’s done enough damage to make P.J. Walker the better option at quarterback.
Unfortunately, the franchise might not forgive him because he’s worth a king’s ransom already.
Darnold is 1-5 in his las six starts.
His numbers during that stretch: 109 of 199 (54%), 1,098 yards, 4 TDs, 10 INTs, QB rating 56.48
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 7, 2021
The Panthers gave away three draft picks to acquire him from the Jets.
Two of those picks will be in the second and fourth round of next year’s draft, wherein you can find decent starters.
But that’s not where the frustration ends because Carolina picked up his fifth-year option for 2022, worth $18.5 million.
That’s a high amount to pay for a quarterback that folds during pressure situations.
Unless he becomes one of the best players in the league, Darnold will become a nightmare that the Panthers can’t wait to end.