3 major storylines following the Carolina Panthers into Week 8 vs. Texans

The bye week has come and gone, it's time to get back to business for the Carolina Panthers.
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud / Allen Berezovsky/GettyImages
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Carolina Panthers pick under the spotlight

The debate between Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud has been raging since March when the Carolina Panthers traded up to acquire the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft from the Chicago Bears. That selection was spent on the kid from Alabama, obviously.

I had the opportunity to talk with Panthers wide receiver D.J. Chark during the bye week. He gave the inside perspective of how the locker room sees this Sunday’s matchup with the Houston Texans and the subplot of Young vs. Stroud - referring to the latter as “the elephant in the room”.

Fans were divided on who they preferred then. Many are still - perhaps even more so - divided after the first half-dozen games of the season.

Much of that can be attributed to Stroud’s impressive statistical accumulation and the simple fact that the Texans have won three games. In contrast, Young and the Panthers still sport a donut at the beginning of the team’s win-loss record.

Stroud has been terrific to begin his career. The former Ohio State Buckeye has amassed 1,660 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and only one interception, with a 59.6 completion percentage through six games.

Young, meanwhile, boasts 967 yards passing, six touchdowns, and four interceptions, with a 63.2 completion percentage in five games played - one missed with his ankle injury.

Their situations are unique - as is any quarterback in the NFL. Stroud was drafted into a franchise that hired Bobby Slowik as the offensive coordinator to work with newly hired head coach, DeMeco Ryans.

Slowik is a descendant of the Kyle Shannahan coaching tree and deployed a very efficient and friendly system for Stroud. The signal-caller also appears to have more talented weapons currently than the Panthers and Young.

Not that it’s been a delightful walk down easy street, however. That would be dismissive of the work that Stroud has put into his game and how well he’s executed the concepts his coaches have asked him to.

The Texans have dealt with their own share of injuries to the offensive line, like the Panthers. They’ve simply done a better job with the adversity.

Young looks more confident and comfortable each week. He enjoyed his first ‘clean’ stat sheet in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins, committing no turnovers. He also has begun to find more success with the intermediate depth throws, where he had been largely limited to screens and short completions the first few contests.

In that same game, the Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead against the red-hot Dolphins but were unable to hold and continue that momentum once Miami got rolling. I look for Carolina to feed off what they saw work in the early portion of that game and incorporate that into the game plan this week.

Thomas Brown will have every intention of getting this game off to a positive beginning, as far as Young and this offense is concerned. I believe he’ll dial up a couple of deep shots once they establish a rhythm and put their chess pieces into position.