Could unlikely alliance help the Carolina Panthers succeed in 2022?

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield and Ben McAdoo
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield and Ben McAdoo /

Could an unlikely alliance between Baker Mayfield and Ben McAdoo help the Carolina Panthers succeed during the 2022 season? 

The NFL always brings about some enticing storylines. And in the Carolina Panthers’ case next season, fate has brought two individuals together with a somewhat tainted history.

Ben McAdoo was appointed Carolina’s new offensive coordinator earlier this year, replacing Joe Brady. This represents a fresh start for the respected coach after things ended sourly with the New York Giants, but there was an obvious complication about what the Panthers were planning to do at the most important position in football.

After lengthy discussions with the Cleveland Browns, the Panthers struck a deal with Baker Mayfield. While the quarterback represents an upgrade on Sam Darnold, it came with instant reactions to some pre-draft comments made by McAdoo regarding the Oklahoma product.

The internet is a weird and wonderful place. If McAdoo thought his assessment of Mayfield before he was taken No. 1 overall in 2018 wouldn’t rear its head again, he was sorely mistaken.

"“I didn’t see a lot of pro-style football in his college tape. And if you’re short you have to be able to make up for it some way, somehow, and personality doesn’t do that. I didn’t think he was a great athlete. This guy is kinda like a pocket quarterback that is short and with small hands, that’s what I worry about.’’"

In fairness, this was a long time ago.

Baker Mayfield and Ben McAdoo must gel quickly with the Carolina Panthers

Mayfield might not be the best signal-caller that entered the league from a class that also included Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. But he’s proven capable of leading a team to the postseason if everything around him clicks into place.

McAdoo’s influence has been noticeable from the moment he joined the Panthers. He was instrumental in Carolina moving up to acquire Matt Corral at No. 94 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft and also likely played a key role in Ian Thomas getting a new deal when many thought he’d be moved on.

Simply put, it’s unlikely this trade gets the green light without McAdoo’s approval. Although there’s also a chance his opinion was overridden by the likes of David Tepper, Matt Rhule, and Scott Fitterer.

We’ll never know for sure. But both parties have to put what’s transpired in the past to one side and focus on the task at hand.

They do say opposites attract.

So this unlikely alliance might just work.

McAdoo’s offense is known for being complex. So there is a lot of hard work coming Mayfield’s way to ensure he hits the ground running in a different environment.

These two big personalities have to mesh cohesively – and quickly – in order for the Panthers to succeed. Both probably know how much is on the line in 2022 for many across the organization, which stems from years of underachievement and has left Carolina with no margin for error next time around.

The Panthers got a pretty good deal for Mayfield. Especially if the signal-caller returns to his 2020 form now that his shoulder is fully healed.

This adds another layer of fascination to what is a make-or-break campaign in Carolina. Mayfield has Christian McCaffrey back, an abundance of weapons in the passing game, and an improved offensive line, so if he can get familiarized with McAdoo’s demands efficiently, the Panthers might just be onto something.

Although it does look like a good scheme fit, it could also be a powder keg waiting to go off.

Which way it is going to go? Only time will tell.

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