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Baker Mayfield being named the Panthers starter after this lengthy solely hurts Carolina

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From the second the Carolina traded for Baker Mayfield, it was clear to everybody he was going to be the starter. Apparently this was misplaced on the Panthers. Now, after nearly two months of procrastination the group named Mayfield their Week 1 starter, and in doing so misplaced invaluable time they’ll’t get again.

The problem stems from a well-known chorus throughout the Matt Rhule period: An absence of honesty in the direction of followers and the media. Because the head coach arrived there’s been a standard thread of not truthfully explaining the group’s personnel selections, even once they’re so apparent that subterfuge could be pointless. This occurred when Marty Hurney was normal supervisor, and has continued since Scott Fitterer took the helm.

Quarterback is the core problem right here, and it’s marred the Panthers since parting methods with Cam Newton (the primary time) in 2019. Carolina has been throwing all the pieces on the wall and hoping one thing sticks, and the choice to commerce for Mayfield, lower than a 12 months after committing to Sam Darnold is just a continuation of the development.

There was by no means any doubt that Mayfield was going to be one of the best quarterback on the roster. That’s not precisely saying a lot, nevertheless it’s true — such is the state of affairs the Panthers put themselves in. Nonetheless, the group was adamant {that a} QB competitors was going down, giving Mayfield and Darnold equal first group snaps in coaching camp, regardless of it changing into clear instantly that Baker was the higher participant.

The issue is that this had a knock on impact down the remainder of the roster. With Mayfield and Darnold buying and selling off snaps with the primary and second groups respectively, it left the opposite two quarterbacks on the roster, Matt Corral and P.J. Walker, to have their very own fake QB competitors for the third string slot.

Simply as Mayfield was at all times going to be the No. 1, everybody knew that Corral could be both the backup or, at worst, the No. 3. That’s what occurs once you take a quarterback with a choose within the early rounds of the draft. Particularly one you’ve talked up as being a possible face of the franchise. Walker has been hand for the Panthers, and however he’s by no means been within the group’s future plans — and he’s a free agent after 2022.

So, by pretending there was a contest between Mayfield and Darnold, then pretending there was one other between Corral and Walker — all it actually did was take away any alternative for growth from Corral. Whereas Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis had been working with common season starters, Corral was left with fringe offensive linemen and receivers each in camp, and preseason. It meant he by no means actually had an opportunity to develop a rapport with the group’s greatest gamers, and outdoors of sooner or later in camp the place he labored with the second group, another probability to get higher was wasted.

Now these alternatives are completely out the window. Corral will miss your entire 2022 season with a Lisfranc damage. Whereas that couldn’t have been anticipated, the Panthers might have carried out a lot extra to get a greater have a look at their rookie quarterback earlier than dropping him. It’s one other avoidable misstep on the place by a group that lastly felt prefer it was placing it collectively.

What makes this so troublesome is that the season now appears like a lose-lose proposition. If Mayfield performs lights out and leads the Panthers to playoffs they’re going to really feel obligated to increase him — particularly with so little information on Corral. If the group stinks once more, and finds itself drafting within the High 10 once more they now have a state of affairs the place they’re choosing excessive in a QB wealthy draft, with out having any concept if Corral is an efficient passer.

All it took was being sincere and doing the apparent. Title Mayfield the starter nearly instantly after buying and selling for him, figuring out Darnold could be the backup. Then, as a substitute of this pointless back-and-forth the group might have given Matt Corral loads of probabilities to showcase his skills, simply as the opposite rookies have had — however they didn’t.

The Panthers simply can’t get out of their very own method relating to quarterbacks, however all that could possibly be forgiven by followers if it leads to a profitable season and playoff success. If that doesn’t occur then the seats in Charlotte have by no means been hotter.

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