3 reasons Carolina Panthers starting Sam Darnold is the right call

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

Carolina Panthers cannot depend on Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield came into the Carolina Panthers with renewed hope that things could finally start trending in the right direction. The quarterback led his previous employers to their first playoff victory since 1994 just two seasons ago and even though the regression was evident in 2021, many put the blame on the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder more than anything else.

It wasn’t an easy situation for Mayfield. Fingers should rightfully be pointed at Matt Rhule’s handling of the quarterback position in training camp and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s suspect play-calling, but the former Oklahoma star’s performance levels haven’t been good enough when it’s all said and done.

His disappointing outing at the Baltimore Ravens might have been the final straw. Mayfield will once again occupy a backup role and if Sam Darnold seizes the moment – which is debatable – then the Heisman Trophy winner will likely ride the bench for Carolina’s remaining fixtures.

At the end of the day, the Panthers and interim head coach Steve Wilks just couldn’t depend on Mayfield. If he’d done enough to convince the coaching staff even moderately that he was capable of moving the chains and putting up points, the Panthers wouldn’t be in this mess, to begin with.

There is also the potential of giving up a high-end fourth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns if Mayfield plays more than 70 percent of snaps. Although that looks almost impossible now after he missed so much time through injury.

Darnold’s own performances after a strong start in 2021 don’t leave many reasons for encouragement. Carolina has come full circle and is back to square one, but thankfully for fans, there isn’t long left before this situation gets completely resolved next spring.