3 reasons the Carolina Panthers should beat the Texans in Week 3

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Joe Brady
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Joe Brady /
3 of 4
Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold is doing the little things right

A second reason the Carolina Panthers have a great shot to win on Thursday night is the play of Sam Darnold. Those in power traded for the fourth-year quarterback back in April, hoping to resurrect his career.

Both sides were in need of a change, the Panthers after a failed season with Teddy Bridgewater, and Darnold after three tumultuous seasons with the Jets.

Two games in, a change of scenery has done wonders for Darnold. He threw 39 interceptions in 38 games with New York, winning only 13 of those contests.

So far, his Panthers career is off to a much better start.

After two weeks he has four total touchdowns, almost 600 total yards, just one interception, and owns the sixth-best QBR in the league. The numbers aren’t spectacular, but they’ve been good nonetheless.

Perhaps the most important area of growth for the former third-overall pick has been in his decision-making. During his three years with the Jets, he was constantly trying to force throws to his receivers, missing reads, and too often just simply making poor decisions.

Now with Carolina, Darnold has excelled in taking what the defense is giving him, checking the ball down when nobody is open, and averting disaster except on his lone interception.

Being surrounded by playmakers like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson hasn’t hurt. But as he continues to get more comfortable in Joe Brady’s system, it’s nice to see Darnold taking the easy completions.

The Texans have been ballhawks in the secondary, picking off four passes already – second-most in the NFL – so it’s important that Darnold has shown that he can make the right decisions.

Houston has a better defense than the Jets, and a far healthier one than the Saints had this past weekend, so that progression is huge for the Panthers’ quarterback. Assuming he can continue to grow in his new offense, both his confidence and the team’s win total should keep trending upward.