4 key results needed for a successful Sam Darnold season in 2021

(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
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Sam Darnold
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Contend for a playoff spot

The Carolina Panthers enter the 2021 season with the youngest team in the NFL. Expectations are not high for this group like it had previously been after the Super Bowl run, but this fan base is thirsty for a contender.

Carolina’s patient fanbase has not had a winning season to cheer or playoff football to watch since the 2017 season, where they finished with an 11-5 record under Ron Rivera.

A lot of that can be pointed in the direction of the quarterback play.

An injury-plagued Cam Newton and ineffective Teddy Bridgewater played big parts in the records of those teams. Sam Darnold comes over with a clean slate and plenty of opportunities for success with the players around him.

A favorable schedule comes with several opportunities to go on a few runs, so the opportunity to contend this year is there providing Darnold can finally start living up to expectations when he entered the league.

Whether he can do this or not remains to be seen and will define Carolina’s season.

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Darnold has shown flashes on film on why he was selected so high in the draft. If the signal-caller can take advantage of the upgrade in offensive weapons he will have this year, take care of the football and stay healthy, the whispers of looking beyond him for a franchise quarterback just might fade away.