3 things Sam Darnold must do better after Carolina Panthers trade

(Syndication: North Jersey) Sam Darnold
(Syndication: North Jersey) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

What elements of Sam Darnold’s game must the quarterback do better in 2021 after the Carolina Panthers acquired the player via trade?

The Carolina Panthers seem to have a significant amount of faith in Sam Darnold‘s potential despite a less than stellar start to his NFL career. They gave up three draft selections over the next two years – including a second-rounder in 2022 – to acquire the quarterback from the New York Jets after deciding to finally call it quits in their pursuit of Deshaun Watson with his criminal allegations showing no signs of ending anytime soon.

If Darnold comes up with the goods in a different environment, then this will be a shrewd acquisition by the Panthers. The former No. 3 overall selection in 2018 has all the tools needed to make a real go of things from a starting position, but being around a toxic environment on the Jets and head coach Adam Gase has had a detrimental impact on his early progression.

There will be no more excuses for Darnold in Carolina. The roster is loaded with weapons everywhere you look and providing the protection gets better with some solid college recruits in the 2021 NFL Draft, then the USC product might be the missing piece to the puzzle.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three things Darnold must do better to make a success out of a brand-new opportunity in Carolina next season and beyond.

Number 1

Carolina Panthers
(Syndication: The Record) Sam Darnold /

Recognize pressure

The Jets didn’t have the most productive protection in front of Sam Darnold during his career. But the signal-caller needs to do a better job of recognizing pressure and reacting accordingly.

This will do his chances of increased production on the Carolina Panthers a tremendous amount of good. Darnold has been sacked an incredible 98 times in 38 career games so far, which simply cannot continue if the player wants to be regarded as a top-end quarterback in the NFL.

Carolina should be better on their offensive line next season. The team put the franchise tag on stud right tackle Taylor Moton, with the prospect of someone like Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater coming into the organization via the 2021 NFL Draft a real possibility.

Getting a talented guard from a deep class to put alongside Matt Paradis and John Miller on the interior is another option. But plenty of responsibility will also be on Darnold’s shoulders as he looks to rid himself of the “seeing ghosts” tag that has blighted his stint in the league so far.