3 areas Sam Darnold must improve for Carolina Panthers playoff push

(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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What areas must quarterback Sam Darnold improve as the Carolina Panthers set their sights on securing a shock postseason berth in 2022?

Sam Darnold has gone from an afterthought into the man who’ll lead the Carolina Panthers in their quest for the NFC South title against all odds. Steve Wilks’ men are just one game back from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and with a decent-looking schedule, it’s not hard to see why there is hope when everything seemed lost for the franchise in 2022.

Darnold played his second consecutive turnover-free game since being named the starter in Week 14. This contributed to a memorable road win for Carolina at the Seattle Seahawks, which only enhances the level of confidence surrounding Wilks’ ability to become the team’s head coach beyond the current campaign.

The objective is clear. Carolina needs to win their remaining four games to be guaranteed a playoff berth and NFC South title. Easier said than done, but they are gaining momentum at the right time, which is always handy when business picks up.

There’s no denying Darnold’s importance in all this. It’s been encouraging overall, but here are three areas he must improve during the Panthers’ unexpected postseason push.

Area to Improve No. 1

Sam Darnold
(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold must trust his legs

One area of Sam Darnold’s game that often goes overlooked is his ability to churn valuable yards on the ground. Yet the quarterback seemed hesitant to do this at the Seattle Seahawks despite having multiple opportunities to make life easier for himself.

This might just be nerves after so long out of the lineup. But the sooner Darnold starts trusting his legs more, the better his and the Carolina Panthers’ chances will be down the stretch.