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
(Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold must not make costly errors

Some of the main criticisms of Sam Darnold have been erratic distribution and silly decisions. This was put down to rookie growing pains and the inept coaching of Adam Gase, but it didn’t take long to realize these problems were much more deep-rooted upon arriving at the Carolina Panthers.

Darnold thrived against less-than-stellar opposition over the first three weeks of 2021. But when Christian McCaffrey went down with another injury, the quarterback reverted to type and went on a disastrous run before and after a spell on injured/reserve.

Fate has now given Darnold another shot almost by default with P.J. Walker out through injury and Baker Mayfield offering almost nothing. The jury is still out as to whether or not he can galvanize himself, but ridding unwanted errors in key moments from his game would be a good place to start.

The critical element for Darnold is not forcing the issue. Take what the Denver Broncos defense gives him and rely on the running game to potentially put him in manageable situations in pursuit of moving the chains.

When Darnold starts overthinking things, that’s when the problems arise. Improving efficiency and taking fewer risks would also be beneficial, but the task awaiting him is a steep one with the Broncos possessing one of the NFL’s most prolific defenses despite trading star edge rusher Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins.

There are times when Darnold’s feet don’t match his processing or throwing motion. And it’s going to take a monumental turnaround to alleviate these fears.

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