4 problems Panthers QB Sam Darnold must overcome in 2021

Dean Jones
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
3 of 5
Sam Darnold
(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /


There are plenty of excuses for Sam Darnold from his time on the New York Jets. But that should not detract from how poor his decision-making was at times.

Being flustered in the pocket is more than enough for an opposing defense to smell blood. There was a small matter of Darnold’s lack of confidence to also consider in this regard, but having the arm talent is only going to get you so far and for so long in the NFL.

The Carolina Panthers are giving Darnold a pass for his efforts at MetLife Stadium. They see something in the quarterback to suggest he can thrive in their scheme and with an abundance of talent to utilize in the passing game. Something he rarely had in New York.

Darnold needs to hit the ground running, be careful with the football, and make the right read almost every time. Whether that comes with a check-down or a bomb downfield if the chance is there, it’s important the player comes through in big moments for his team.

This failure is what ultimately led to Teddy Bridgewater’s trade to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick and a dead cap figure of more than $17 million. So if the same problems surface with Darnold, it’s going to have some pretty serious ramifications for the player and the organization.

Mechanically at least, everything is there for Darnold and he’s managed to put together some impressive highlights to go along with the bad. But unless his decisions from the pocket make strides, the questions surrounding his viability as an NFL starter will remain.