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 /
2 of 3
Sam Darnold
(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold must make red-zone chances count

If one was being overly critical of the Carolina Panthers since Sam Darnold became their No. 1 quarterback once again, it’s capitalizing on red-zone opportunities. Had they done so in Week 14 at the Seattle Seahawks, things would have been much more comfortable.

Darnold is still adjusting and should improve as the weeks go on. But time is of the essence and with the margin for error so slim, any progress in this critical area of the field could make a massive difference in the grand scheme of things.

It’s not been all bad in the red zone for Darnold, far from it actually. The signal-caller is also benefitting enormously from a strong running game led by D’Onta Foreman and an exceptional offensive line, which continue to emerge as one of the NFL’s most improved units.

This is the blueprint for Carolina moving forward. However, there will come a time down the stretch when the Panthers need Darnold to come through in clutch situations.

Based on the player’s career so far, he might not be capable. Although this does appear to be a different Darnold from the one that offered very little in 2021 following his trade from the New York Jets.

Becoming clinical in the red zone and ensuring the Panthers get touchdowns rather than field goals is absolutely vital if Steve Wilks wants to mark his time as interim head coach with an NFC South championship.