The polarizing Bryce Young
I understand that the fan opinion of Bryce Young is incredibly divided. That may even be putting it lightly. The quarterback has become a polarizing topic of conversation, despite only having played one season of professional football.
But here’s the reality about Young – he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. It wasn’t a surprise or a reach. He had been comfortably towards the top of prospect rankings for nearly two years prior. When pundits gave their player comparisons, names such as Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Drew Brees were brought up with regularity.
NFL executive and coaching circles, from what I have read and been able to gather, do not feel the same level of doom and gloom that fans – even Carolina Panthers supporters – seemingly do. The opportunity to coach and develop a blue-chip quarterback prospect is a significant draw, in my opinion.
Most head coaching vacancies arise after dreadful seasons. This typically coincides with poor rosters and premium upcoming draft selections.
The Panthers do not have that first-round pick in 2024 for the new head coach. But after basically running in a purgatory-simulating hamster wheel for his rookie season in the league, Young is a blank enough canvas that someone can view him in a similar regard to any of the top quarterback prospects in this class.
The difference is - and perhaps even an advantage - that Young has seen how difficult the NFL is and where he needs to personally improve to take his game to the next tier.
For my money, Young also put enough good work on film during his rookie season to help project his potential as soon as he’s met with adequate coaching and an improved supporting cast. The Heisman Trophy winner displayed his off-schedule playmaking, his pocket manipulation and elusiveness, ability to throw efficiently over the middle of the field, and impressive anticipation on his throws.
He has improvements to make in his game, as well. The ridiculous 62 sacks he endured in his introductory season - second most in league history for a rookie quarterback - impacted his post-snap decision-making and sped up his process to a detriment at times.
He can still clean up some mechanical aspects. Although that doesn’t bother me personally as much, as Young has been an unorthodox player in part due to his physical stature.
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has played an integral part in the reinvention and development of Jared Goff - also a former No. 1 overall pick that many considered ‘disappointing’. Bobby Slowik likely did as much, if not more, preparation work for Young while he anticipated his Houston Texans team drafting the Alabama prospect with their first selection before the Panthers leapfrogged them via trade with the Chicago Bears.
Brian Callahan has been the catalyst for building the offense and the playbook around Joe Burrow. Frank Smith, offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, has helped install and procure an offensive scheme around shorter-than-usual signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa - who led the league in passing this season.
A candidate such as Mike Macdonald, the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, wouldn’t seem to shy away from an unconventional yet talented player. It has been a specialty of his to identify those players and put them in the absolute best positions for success. The coaching networks of candidates such as Mike Vrabel and Raheem Morris are surely filled with possible coordinators who would relish the opportunity to work with Young.
That’s not every candidate, but I wanted to demonstrate that the point of hiring a coach is to have them nurture their players into the best forms of themselves. That is tied to the schemes they’d implement, as well as the work ethic and communication.
In no world is Young a deterrent for this head coaching job. He’s the big fish.