The unprecedented quarterback carousel of 2022 affected the Panthers despite their lack of a veteran acquisition. The rumors and uncertainty surrounding the position made it difficult for new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to commit to an offensive identity until the frenzy died down.
Veteran quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are still available and being linked to Carolina, but GM Scott Fitterer won’t pounce until he is sure a player will give the Panthers a better chance to win. That day may not come however, as Panthers’ star wideout D.J. Moore has already been impressed with current starter Sam Darnold from a physical and mental standpoint.
“I could see growth in him already from OTAs,” Moore said on The Rich Eisen Show. “Everything has been hectic this offseason for him in the news, with all the quarterbacks moving around. And the way he just handled it, he was talking to everybody, just so poised. And then he came in and he’s got to learn the new offense. He just took it head-on.”
Darnold is coming off a season where he threw more interceptions than touchdowns and completed just under 60% of his passes. The Panthers will need more from their starter to be contenders this season.
The hope is that Darnold will return to the efficiency he played with when Christian McCaffrey was healthy in the first four games of 2021. The team went 3-1 in that span and Darnold averaged 297 yards per game, tossing five touchdowns and three picks. His completion percentage was between 65% and 69% in all of those games with their only loss coming against Dallas in week 4.
That consistency is exactly what the Panthers need at QB over a full season. Although it’s a short sample size, Darnold proved he can win with McCaffrey healthy. It seems the team will give him the chance to do it again with a more experienced offensive coordinator in command and the offensive line reinforced.
The New Offense
McAdoo, the former head coach of the New York Giants, was most recently a consultant for the Dallas Cowboys last season. In 2016, he took the Giants to their only playoff appearance since their 2011 Super Bowl victory.
He’s had some time with Carolina’s offense already and all signs are pointing up, according to Moore. In fact, Moore said that the offense is in significantly better shape than in years’ past.
“I feel like it’s a better structure for us going into this year than previous years… I could tell you a little something like the offense was way better than previous years,” Moore said. “So, we have a lot of upgraded weapons and calls that will help us out this year.”