4 ways Sam Darnold can seize final Panthers starting chance in Week 12

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold must trust his OL

For all Sam Darnold’s faults since entering the league, one could point fingers at the offensive lines he’s been forced to work behind both with the Carolina Panthers and earlier on the New York Jets. Something that’s played a leading role in the player flattering to deceive more often than not.

Darnold will assume command of the starting job in Week 12 and can now confidently say this is the best offensive line he’s worked with during his career. The Panthers finally invested in their protection effectively this offseason, which has seen this group become one of the NFL’s most improved units throughout the campaign.

One notable feature of Baker Mayfield’s time under center was his hesitancy in the pocket. The No. 1 overall selection in 2018 just didn’t trust his protection for whatever reason, which led to complications going through his reads and bringing pressure on himself thanks to some concerning indecision.

This is the one thing Darnold cannot do. Having a belief that his protection will stand up in the face of concerted pressure is absolutely critical to any strides he makes this weekend and potentially beyond.

The Panthers haven’t had many bright spots this season. But the offensive line is undoubtedly one of them and this is something Darnold should take advantage of with increased confidence and additional poise in the pocket.