Because the 2021 NFL season dawned, the Carolina Panthers appeared poised to have a breakout 12 months.
Head coach Matt Rhule was about to start his second 12 months with optimism that the Panthers would simply enhance on their five-win efficiency from 2020.
After the primary three weeks of the season, Carolina was the feel-good story within the NFL.
Darnold appeared higher than marketed and the workforce was 3-0.
The great vibes didn’t final.
Since Week 4, the workforce has misplaced seven of 9 video games and likewise misplaced Darnold to harm.
Even with former All-World quarterback Cam Newton returning to Carolina, nothing has gone proper.
Listed below are three causes that Panthers followers must be in full panic mode.
3. The Operating Recreation
Christian McCaffrey is among the greatest younger working backs within the league, when he’s on the sector.
In April of 2020, the Panthers signed McCaffrey to a four-year, $64 million contract extension.
The transfer made him the highest-paid working again in NFL historical past.
Since then, McCaffrey has performed precisely 10 video games.
He left throughout Week 3 with an harm, got here again, then suffered an ankle harm this previous Sunday.
On Monday, it was introduced by the workforce that McCaffrey will miss the rest of the 12 months due to mentioned harm.
The #Panthers have positioned RB Christian McCaffrey on Injured Reserve. Out for the season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 29, 2021
Hubbard has accomplished his greatest to exchange McCaffrey.
Nonetheless, he has 427 yards on 122 carries for 3.5 yards per carry and 5 touchdowns.
Solely one in all Hubbard’s begins cracked 100 yards (101 versus Philly in Week 5) and his subsequent greatest sport was an 82-yard effort versus Atlanta in Week 8.
At the moment, the workforce’s dashing assault is ranked 18th within the NFL.
With scant choices backing him up, Hubbard has to hold the load.
If not, opponents can key nearly completely on the passing sport.
2. The Quarterbacks
As talked about, the quarterback scenario is grim.
Earlier than affected by a fractured scapula in Week 9 towards the New England Patriots, Darnold appeared like he was again in New York.
In his previous 5 video games (together with the Patriots sport) Darnold had handed for over 200 yards as soon as.
He additionally tossed 10 picks in his final six video games after throwing one within the first three weeks.
Throughout that very same stretch, Darnold had 4 landing passes.
Newton returning after a 12 months away in New England hasn’t helped.
In his two video games because the starter, Newton has gone 0-2.
Cam Newton was benched after a troublesome day towards Miami: pic.twitter.com/2TraD8j3At
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 28, 2021
Even worse, after finishing solely 5 passes for 92 yards, two interceptions and an unsightly 5.8 passer ranking, he was benched for P.J. Walker this previous Sunday.
1. The Future
The Panthers at present sit in fourth place within the NFC South.
Fortunately, the 2 groups above them aren’t significantly better.
With just a little luck, Carolina might transfer into second place by solely successful a couple of video games.
Nonetheless, that’s what it’s going to take: luck.
The Panthers can’t depend on their protection to hold the workforce the remainder of the season.
Darnold might return quickly, however that’s not essentially a great factor.
Carolina has a great receiver in D.J. Moore (66 receptions) however nobody regular behind heart to get him the ball.
By now, it must be apparent to the entrance workplace that quarterback is the highest place of want within the 2022 draft.
After all, if that occurs, there are extra lean days on the horizon till (or, if) that new QB can contribute to the franchise.
Sorry, Panthers followers.
It could get rather a lot worse earlier than it will get higher.