The leading passer for the Carolina Panthers in 2018 was Cam Newton. The team finished with a losing record.
The leading passer for the Carolina Panthers in 2019 was Kyle Allen. The team finished with a losing record.
The leading passer for the Carolina Panthers in 2020 was Teddy Bridgewater. The team finished with a losing record.
Will things be different for the ‘Black and Blue’ in 2021? If so, it’s up to new quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold, most recently a member of the New York Jets, has struggled to a 13-25 career record as a starter, completing less than 60% of his passes in that span and throwing more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine) a year ago.
Second-year head coach Matt Rhule is hoping a change of scenery does the former No. 3 overall pick good. Having a talent like Christian McCaffrey in the backfield doesn’t hurt either. McCaffrey led the National Football League with 2,392 yards from scrimmage in 2019 before missing 13 games due to injury a year ago.
Darnold and McCaffrey will line up behind a beefed-up offensive line, as Carolina added left guard Pat Elflein and left tackle Cameron Erving in free agency this offseason. The Panthers are again expecting big things from wideouts DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, the team’s two leading receivers in 2020.
On defense, new faces like defensive end Morgan Fox, linebacker Haason Reddick, and top-10 draft pick Jaycee Horn are expected to step right into starting roles for a unit that allowed over 30 points a half-dozen times last season.
Carolina kicks off the 2021 season with an intriguing matchup between Darnold and his former team, as the Jets visit Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, September 12. The Panthers host New Orleans in Week 2 to begin divisional play, then head to Houston on a short week for a Thursday Night Football game in Week 3.
October brings three NFC East opponents in the space of 22 days: at Dallas October 3, vs. Philadelphia October 10, and at the Giants October 24. (That seems like good news for the Panthers, as that was the weakest division in football a year ago.)
In a bit of a scheduling quirk, the Panthers face defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay twice in the final three weeks of the season, hosting the Buccaneers on December 26 and concluding the regular season January 9 in Tampa.
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