4 crucial Carolina Panthers observations at the 2022 bye week

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /

Carolina Panthers must solve their QB problem

For all the encouraging signs surrounding the Carolina Panthers post-Matt Rhule, one complication continues to prove difficult to overcome. That, of course, is the problem at quarterback.

Baker Mayfield‘s big arrival via trade from the Cleveland Browns was seemingly doomed to fail. The signal-caller didn’t get any assistance from Matt Rhule in the summer and the Panthers paid the price when competitive action began within a scheme that looked bland at best over the first few weeks of the campaign.

Mayfield went out injured soon after and was dismal during his one start following Rhule’s firing at the Baltimore Ravens. Although P.J. Walker showed some signs of life, it doesn’t look like he can become the answer under center when push comes to shove.

Then, there’s Sam Darnold. The USC product earned a hugely impressive 72.0 QBR for his efforts in Week 12, providing a sense of stability and turnover-free decisions that haven’t been seen from the player in Carolina before.

Steve Wilks has already named Darnold the starter in Week 14 at the Seattle Seahawks. If he can build on an eye-catching first outing behind the strongest offensive line he’s ever had the benefit of, then the Panthers could be onto something before the campaign comes to a conclusion.

Regardless of how Darnold fares between now and then, those in power must get their next quarterback right. And with a high-end draft pick looming, they are in a good spot to take a promising prospect from the college ranks in 2023.

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