Why Sam Darnold might be a work in progress for the Panthers in 2021

Dean Jones
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule

How Sam Darnold can shine

This is all about mentality.

Sam Darnold needs to come into the Carolina Panthers with a fresh and firm mindset that will enable him to give his team the best possible chance of progression in 2021.

Considering the young talent on both sides of the ball, it might just come down to whether the quarterback is good enough and not much else of others live up to their end of the bargain.

Nobody will know more about what’s at stake than Darnold himself. If he cannot make a better go of things in Carolina, then he can basically kiss his chances of a successful starting career in the NFL goodbye.

Taking things one step at a time is key.

Darnold has to ignore all the outside noise, focus on learning the playbook and trusting in the dynamic weapons around him to smooth his transition during the early stages of the campaign.

Having the league’s best dual-threat running back in Christian McCaffrey to lean on is something else he will benefit from. No opposing defense will be able to cover all Carolina’s weapons efficiently – there are just too many on any given down – so making the right decisions consistently should enable him to shine.

This might take a bit of time, which Darnold simply doesn’t have.

The Panthers picked up his fifth-year option, so the chances are Darnold is getting a couple of years to figure this out.

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However, if Darnold shows absolutely no signs of progression, then going back in for Deshaun Watson or taking a first-round talent in 2022 is a virtual lock where the Panthers are concerned.