4 biggest challenges awaiting the Carolina Panthers in 2021

Dean Jones
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Solving the Sam Darnold riddle

The biggest challenge facing the Carolina Panthers without a shadow of a doubt is how to get Sam Darnold trending in the right direction. Trading for the quarterback from the New York Jets was a huge call to make and they appear highly confident he can make a better go of things with more in the way of talent to utilize in the passing game.

Darnold has all the intangibles needed to be a successful starting signal-caller in the NFL. He is mobile, has a rocket for an arm, and seems to command the respect of the huddle sufficiently without everything quite clicking into place for a multitude of different reasons at MetLife Stadium.

However, Darnold’s decision-making needs some substantial work if he is to thrive in Carolina. There will be no more excuses for the USC product considering the weapons at his disposal, so it will simply be a case of whether his confidence is past the point of no return or not.

The coaching staff and front office hitched their wagon to Darnold after missing out on Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson, sending Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos in the process for a sixth-round pick and a dead-cap figure of more than $17 million, according to Over the Cap.

They will carry part of the blame if Darnold doesn’t pan out as expected. So coming up with a plan that puts him in the best possible position to succeed is absolutely pivotal in the weeks and months to come.