Following his worst performance against the Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers fans must remain patient with quarterback Bryce Young.
This was especially true following the draft selection of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young at No. 1 overall, whose smarts and playmaking ability project a bright future for the player and his franchise. My expectation for the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner was simple - continue to show progress throughout the season, learn from your mistakes, and build on that into your sophomore campaign.
These were based on the idea that the Panthers had a group of skill players that would complement Young's skill set and an offensive line that looked to build on a steady 2022 campaign. However, I was wrong about the current pass-catching unit and the protection Carolina bestows.
The Panthers are a horrific and embarrassing 1-7 following a lowly loss to the Indianapolis Colts and face a potential new rival in the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football. Young threw three interceptions, including two pick-sixes to Kenny Moore II.
Carolina Panthers must do more for Bryce Young
It was the rookie's worst performance to date and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Before the game, Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud - Young's close friend and the No. 2 pick - threw for an NFL rookie record 470 passing yards and five touchdowns in one of the greatest performances from a first-year-pro of all time.
With that, the discourse of who the Panthers should've taken at No. 1 skyrocketed.
Young was bad on Sunday and so was his offense. Stroud was amazing as was his offense. Both players are in two significantly different situations.
Offensive scheme and overall system are quite different from what the overall expectations were heading into the season. I certainly didn't expect Stroud to have the start he did and neither did most others.
The Panthers' offense from a schematic standpoint has shown improvement since offensive coordinator Thomas Brown took over as play-caller. Yet, it seemed to revert to its original self in Week 9.
Momentum-costing miscues from turnovers to penalties, inconsistency from the wide receiver corps - Adam Thielen included - and a sad regression by the offensive line from center to the left-hand side.
This is the life of the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, likely the average life of one.
Very few people expected the Panthers to be a bottom-of-the-league team at this point of the season. However, this is the result of the lack of pursuit of any quality receivers in free agency made available, such as DeAndre Hopkins, and the misses on adding quality depth through the draft by Fitterer.
Young is not in a great situation for his development at the moment. The hope moving forward is that Brown works to construct an offense that allows his quarterback to get the ball out quickly and efficiently while trying to set him up on wider platforms to take shots downfield.
This is more wishful thinking on my part. But it's something I believe gives Young the best chance to succeed.
Would Stroud be able to succeed in this offense? I have serious doubts about that for him or any quarterback, including the great Patrick Mahomes, who is dealing with his issues at wide receiver.
The reason Stroud is playing excellent football is due to the terrific system offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, a Kyle Shanahan disciple, has implemented. It's quarterback-friendly and allows him to play with more freedom at the line of scrimmage. I guarantee Young would be having close or similar success in Houston.
The system currently in place with Carolina is either inconsistent or a continued work in progress. It lacks the identity Reich is still looking for 10 weeks into the regular season.
Carolina Panthers fans must be patient
Patience is required in this process. I will continue to maintain that Young's development, like Stroud's, is a 24 to 36-month process. Progress is not linear and we will know better about these two quarterbacks by the end of their second season.
Young could show drastic improvement with quality weapons, protection, and a better offensive system.
Right now, Young needs to learn to get rid of the ball faster and live for another down instead of attempting to force the issue and make a heroic play. He has still shown strong accuracy on all levels of the field and the player's field vision is incredible for someone so inexperienced.
There are ups and downs from Young's rookie campaign so far. It's fair to say he will likely experience those all year long with how the rest offense is performing.
The debate between Young and Stroud will continue for years to come. The discourse is leaning into the former Ohio State star as long as he continues to perform well this season.
There is no way the conversation is ending anytime soon. However, it's too early to say Young was the wrong selection at No. 1.
Patience is a virtue.
It is needed in this development process of Young, a gifted player who has shown he can be a special quarterback in the NFL. His time will come eventually, but his progression in Year 1 comes first and foremost.