The Carolina Panthers desperately need a quarterback, especially after 2022
NFL season. The carousel started in the preseason. Now a new rider may be joining the fold. Let’s take a look at the carousel this season.
(credit to: https://youtube.com/@sazoomer)
The Start of the Ride: Preseason
The Chaotic ride started in the second game of the 2022 NFL preseason. Matt Corral made his first-ever NFL start against the New England Patriots. At the very end of the game, Corral was trying to keep the drive alive. Deep in Carolina territory, Corral ran to avoid the safety. Unfourtunly, he suffered a Lisfranc injury ending his rookie season.
Carolina would travel to take on the Buffalo Bills in the last preseason game of 2022. Baker Mayfield started that game for Carolina since Carolina was up 14-0. Matt Rhule decided to let Sam Darnold play. Darnold scored a rushing touchdown in the third quarter bringing the score to 21-0. A little while later, Bills defensive tackle C.J Brewer tackled Darnold and landed on his left ankle, causing it to bend awkwardly. Sam would be carted to the locker room. Darnold had suffered a high ankle sprain. He was not able to return for a considerable amount of time.
We are riding into a cave: Baker Mayfield
Baker started against the Cleveland Browns and lost because Cade York made a kick. Everyone pushed it off because it was one game, and the Browns looked like a good team. Then Baker started against the New York Giants. Mayfield went 14-of-29 for 145 yards and one touchdown.
Baker Mayfield would get injured in the fourth quarter of a game against the San Fransico 49ers in a 37-15 loss where he went 20-of-36 for 215 and an interception. Carolina got off to a rocky 1-4 start.
Carolina had the decision to make. They made the right one by firing Matt Rhule (The best day in Panthers franchise history). PJ Walker stepped in when Mayfield was injured. Matt Rhule referred to this as “mop-up duty”.
The Carousel Isn’t Broken after all
Everything was looking up for Carolina. Matt Rhule was gone, and the Steve Wilks era would begin. The Carolina Panthers played the Los Angeles Rams, the worst statistical game for P.J. Walker. Walker went 10-of-16 for 60 yards. New interim Head coach steve Wiliks wasn’t happy, he put in our fifth-string quarterback Jacob Eason (this is in Week 6), whom the team signed earlier that week.
Bow Down to the Carousel
Things would only be going up from here. The Panthers took on an NFC South rival in the Tampa bay Buccaneers where they would win 21-3 (Tom Brady isn’t so great now, isn’t he). XFL legend P.J. Walker led the Panthers to victory with 177 yards and two touchdowns to D.J Moore and Tommy Tremble.
Then the Panthers played the Atlanta Falcons in the best game of the season. With 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, P.J. Walker snaps the ball rolls out to the right, and launches a hail mary from Carolina’s 45-yard line to D.J. Moore for the touchdown tying the game and sending it into overtime. Unfortunately, the Refs decided they needed to be the star of the show and flag D.J. Moore for “taking his helmet off on the playing surface”
Carolina played their hearts until kicker Eddy Piniro missed the game-winning kick. Carolina would have their revenge later.
Two weeks later in a Thursday night rematch of the Panthers and Falcons this time in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the most anticipated game in a few years. Carolina put on a running game masterpiece with D’Onta Foreman having 130 yards and one touchdown. P.J. Walker didn’t play his best game going 10-of-16 for 198 but, Carolina won which was the most important thing. P.J. Walker would suffer a high left ankle sprain which ended his season.
The Ride is Broken (Again!)
In the infamous words of Vince Lombardi “What the hell is going out here”. Carolina would take on the Baltimore Ravens in a good old fashion garbage game. Neither the Ravens nor the Panthers wanted to win this game. Baker Mayfield sure didn’t want Carolina to win, he gifted the Ravens’ defense two interceptions. One to Jason Pierre-Paul and one to Marlon Humphery. This was the reason Carolina lost in a low-scoring affair, the final score being 13-10.
A Beard Guy Name Sam Fixed the Carousel
Sam Darnold was cleared to start since his ankle injury. His first opponent would be the Denver Broncos who were not riding (Broncos Country Let’s Cry). Darnold in this game went 11-of-19 for 164 and one touchdowns. Darnold provided a little stability at quarterback something that didn’t occur under Rhule.
The next week Carolina took on the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, Washington. In this game, Sam sliced up Seattle’s defense (a defense that features Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, and Quandre Diggs) going 14-of-24 for 120 yards and one touchdown to Shi Smith for Smith’s first career touchdown.
In Week 15, the Panthers took on Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh, where even in a loss Darnold still threw for over 200 yards (14-23 for 225 and one touchdown to D.J. Moore). Although this loss was disappointing the Panthers would bounce back hugely.
It's a Christmas Miracle
The next opponent would be the Detroit Lions. Where the Panthers would have a historic day on offense with Sam Darnold leading the way. Carolina had 570 total yards of offense with 250 of those yards being passing. Darnold also threw a touchdown to D.J Moore. With this win, the Panthers were in a position to potentially win the NFC South.
The Ride Ends here
Carolina would take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and they would go on to lose 30-24. Darnold played great during this game, going 341 yards and three touchdowns. Carolina didn’t win because they had a fourth-string cornerback guarding a number-one option wide receiver. Carolina could've been the one to end Tom Brady’s career but, the ride has to end eventually.
It was a Good Ride
The 2022 Panthers quarterback carousel went round and round. It had five participants. The 2023 Draft is just around the corner which means another quarterback could be added. The top option would be C.J. Stroud, the Panthers would potentially have to trade if they are serious about pursuing Stroud. Carolina could also add another veteran, the top options on the market are Jimmy Garapalo and Derek Carr.