4 knee-jerk reactions if things start poorly for the Panthers in 2021

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brady Christensen
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brady Christensen /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /

Carolina Panthers bench Sam Darnold

Things would have to go seriously wrong for the Carolina Panthers to consider benching Sam Darnold.

Almost catastrophic, one suspects.

The quarterback is gearing up for a season where we’ll finally find out whether Darnold can become a starting-caliber NFL player. Something we saw nothing of during his time with the New York Jets.

Darnold’s landed on his feet with the Panthers. He has two 1,000-yard receivers on the outside and an All-Pro running back in Christian McCaffrey alongside him in the backfield to further smooth his transition.

Couple this with a solid pass-catching tight end in Dan Arnold and exciting weapons such as David Moore, Shi Smith, and Terrace Marshall Jr., it’s hard to see Darnold falling flat on his face.

But that’s not to say it isn’t possible.

This is a shot in the dark for the Panthers, who liked what they saw from Darnold on film to suggest he could turn things around in Carolina. If the gamble pays off, then a possible postseason place won’t be far behind.

Unfortunately, there is a flip side to this coin.

Should Darnold’s confidence go past the point of no return, it might force the Panthers to install either P.J. Walker or Will Grier into the lineup and take the USC product out of the firing line.

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This would be a last resort. But again, not entirely out of the question.