It is a time of new beginnings. The 2021 NFL season is upon us, and the team once again has a new quarterback ready to take the field with a full compliment of weaponry. Sam Darnold gets ready to make his black and blue debut against his old team, the New York Jets. The Panthers hope they have given him the change of scenery he so sorely needed, and Darnold looked the part in his first preseason action against the Steelers. Let’s break down the situation.
The Sam Darnold revenge game comes early and hopeful as he’ll look to prove to the team that drafted him that they made a mistake letting him go in favor of Zach Wilson out of BYU. We all know the narrative, Darnold never had the chance he needed in New York thanks to bad personnel decisions, awful coaching, and terrible protection. He’ll look to prove that a combination of high powered weaponry, like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and rookie Terrace Marshall jr. are just what the doctor ordered.
That said, he’ll once again be plagued by suspect protection, and the Panthers are not off to a good start on this front. Right guard John Miller has been placed on the reserve/COVID list which is not ideal, as the right side of the line looked to build on their success from last season. That said, the Panthers have capable depth at guard, and we’ll see who gets the start between Dennis Daley and rookie Deonte “Blastoise” Brown. Presumably, the edge will be granted to Daley, as he does have a year of NFL experience to draw upon. The Panthers will also continue their search at left tackle, with Cam Erving making his first start for the team.
The Jets are rebuilding once again, but one area they expected to be strong was along the defensive line. That all changed when DE Carl Lawson was declared out for the season with a torn achilles, and fellow DE Vinny Curry is also shelved while fighting complications from a rare blood disorder. They do still have third year pro DT Quinnen Williams, who really came into his own last season as one of the young interior linemen to watch, but overall, the Panthers caught a break here with the depleted edge rushers.
At the second level, C.J. Mosley is a force to be reckoned with at middle linebacker, and in the secondary two pretty good safeties in Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner. They are vulnerable at corner though, and this is going to be a problem for them with the quality receivers that Carolina touts. The combination of a lack of fear inspiring pass rushers, and quality corners might make the Jets really sorry really quickly.
Offensively, provided Sam Darnold can come out and look good without getting over-amped about playing his old team, the Panthers have a clear edge offensively in this contest. The offensive line will be shaky, but the talent outside and standing behind Darnold has no equal. This should translate to a fine start to the Panthers 2021 season if they execute on their plus matchups.
What do you think Panthers fans? Sound off in the comments!