The Carolina Panthers are 6-0 after their Week 6 win over the New York Jets, and Sam Darnold has been a big reason for it. He’s completed 68% of his passes with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 154.3 in the process. This is quite impressive considering he was benched last year due to poor performance.
The new jersey jets was a team that had been struggling for a while. Sam Darnold’s hot start has proved the New York Jets were the problem.
The Carolina Panthers have been one of the greatest shocks in the first quarter of the 2021 NFL season, despite what occurred on Sunday. They started the season 3-0 and have recently lost their first game of the season against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. The Panthers acquired Sam Darnold this summer after the New York Jets picked him third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The new administration in New York, headed by Robert Saleh, put a stop to the Darnold era by selecting Zach Wilson second overall in the 2021 draft, tagging him as the franchise’s future quarterback. Darnold, on the other hand, has gotten off to a fast start in 2021, and his early success in Carolina shows that the Jets, not he, were the issue.
Even without Sam Darnold, the Jets are still struggling.
On October 3, 2021, in Arlington, Texas, Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold carries the ball during the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. | Getty Images/Richard Rodriguez
To begin the season, the Jets have been a huge letdown. Of course, they weren’t supposed to make the playoffs, but Wilson and the rest of the offense have failed to establish a rhythm, even with the acquisition of wide receiver Corey Davis.
Wilson’s NFL career hasn’t started off as well as he (and Jets fans) had hoped. Through his first four NFL games, he has just four touchdown passes and eight interceptions, including a four-interception effort against the New England Patriots in Week 2.
Wilson did have a good game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, finishing 21-for-34 for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in the team’s first win of the season, a 27-24 victory.
Of course, Wilson owes a debt of gratitude to Tennessee kicker Randy Bullock, who missed a game-winning field goal in overtime to give New York the win. The Titans were also missing A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, but any win is welcome, particularly for the Jets’ youthful squad.
Darnold is on a tear and has the most running touchdowns in the NFL.
Yes, with five running touchdowns through four games, Darnold leads the entire NFL in rushing touchdowns. During his three seasons with the Jets, he only scored five times. Even more unexpected is the fact that Sunday’s game against the Cowboys was his second straight game with two running touchdowns.
Darnold is also succeeding via the air, and the Panthers’ reliance on the passing game will almost certainly increase until Christian McCaffrey returns. The former USC quarterback has completed 67.8% of his throws for 1,189 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions in four games.
Sure, Darnold and the Panthers lost to the Cowboys on Sunday, but Darnold’s 3-1 start and overall performance has been a pleasant surprise. This was Darnold’s worst performance in 2021, but the Cowboys are the overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East, so there’s little need to be disappointed in Carolina.
Despite the defeat, Darnold completed 26 of 39 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns, although he did throw two interceptions. But they were both to Trevon Diggs, who currently has five interceptions to lead the league and was just awarded NFC Defensive Player of the Month. Despite a late fourth-quarter comeback, they lost to the Cowboys 36-28. Darnold had six touches for 35 yards and two running touchdowns.
Because to the development of Sam Darnold, the Panthers are a playoff club in the NFC.
Who predicted Carolina to be one of the top teams in the league to begin the 2021 season? Isn’t it likely that there aren’t many?
However, Darnold’s ascension has elevated Matt Rhule’s squad to a playoff contender. It’s still early, but they’ve looked more than deserving of a postseason berth thus far, particularly given how the rest of the NFC South is shaping out, with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons both experiencing early-season difficulties.
Even without McCaffrey, if Darnold can maintain playing at this level, things for Carolina may turn out very nicely as the season continues. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still the division favorites (as they should be), but the Panthers aren’t out of the running for a Wild Card place.
Over the following four weeks, the Panthers will play the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons, all of whom are winnable games for Darnold and company.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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