Matt Rhule on passing on QB: I just believe in Sam Darnold

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The Panthers were seen as a potential landing spot for quarterbacks heading into the first round of the draft despite the presence of Sam Darnold and they had a pair of them on the board when the No. 8 pick came up last Thursday night.

Neither Justin Fields nor Mac Jones was the team’s choice, however. They took cornerback Jaycee Horn and cemented their commitment to Darnold by exercising their option on his contract for the 2022 season.

During a Tuesday appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Rhule explained that the rationale behind the Panthers’ pick was that they’ll be better with Darnold and Horn than they would be by doubling down at the quarterback spot.

“I love those guys and I think they’re gonna be great NFL players. I just think for us, when we got Sam and knowing he’s 23-years-old, just turned 24, we just felt like Sam plus another player would be better for the team overall,” Rhule said. “Bill Parcells once said one player can’t do it alone. We’re just trying to build the whole team and I just believe in Sam, I believe that he deserves the opportunity to go out and play with us. I think those other young quarterbacks are gonna be fantastic players, but the hit rate on first-round quarterbacks isn’t real, real high, and to have a chance to get Jaycee Horn and have Sam Darnold, we just kind of felt like, ‘Hey this is two for one.’ Now, we just have to make sure Sam’s a great player for us.”

After taking Horn, the Panthers selected four straight offensive players who can fit around Darnold in the Panthers’ bid to make sure that his Carolina tenure is more successful than his time with the Jets. If that doesn’t work and the other quarterbacks flourish, hindsight won’t be kind to the Panthers. If it does, the rebuild in Carolina should pick up a lot of speed.

27 responses to “Matt Rhule on passing on QB: I just believe in Sam Darnold

  1. I believe in Sam Darnold, too.
    I believe he will get benched at least a couple times this year.
    I believe Thule will then say “I believe in PJ Walker.”

  2. Big Mistake. It is hard to pass on a QB that can lead your team for 10+ years. Darnold will be a backup within 4 to 5 years.

  3. Darnold has two WR coming off 1000 yds seasons and CMC one season removed from 1000yds rushing and 1000 yds recieving and upgrades and TE and OL. Lost a valuable piece in Curtis Samuel, but overall way better oppurtunity for Sam than last few years. We don’t need an MVP season just a top 15. The defense is young and improving and Horn adds hopefully a shutdown corner which the Panthers needed. They sucked last year at getting off the field when they had teams at 3rd and long.

  4. Joe Brady is a great QB coach/developer but two have already failed to bring down Darnold’s turnover rate….?? another college coach who thinks he knows it all.

  5. I think Sam walked into a crappy situation, wasn’t given much to work with and did about as well as would be expected of a kid in that situation – and he was a kid. Put him in a good situation with a guy who wants him and give him some weapons and support him? Don’t ask him to play hero ball but just play within himself? They get a guy who will not have to adjust to the NFL game, who can make all the throws and who doesn’t have a lot of bad habits to unlearn. Plus, he has the added incentive of being tossed aside by the Jets for a shiny new Mormon to fuel him. At worst he’s still better than Teddy B.

  6. I think Darnold will shock people now that he is playing under real coaching..

  7. Unless you’re talking about Trevor Lawrence, there wasn’t a QB I’d take ahead of Darnold. If you take any of the QBs from this year, and put them in the place where Darnold has been the past 3 years, none would be looking too good. The Jets were probably the worst environment for a young QB to thrive. Matt Rhule sees all that. Now he has his QB, plus a very blue chip CB in Horn.

  8. It’s all logical, but Darnold doesn’t feel like he has a ton of upside at this point.

  9. Why would the Panthers draft a QB after they traded for Darnold? They want to – rightly, in my mind – build their team around Darnold and give him as much of a chance at success as possible. Which the Jets failed to do for him.

    This is also somewhat similar to Green Bay’s situation. The team used a first round pick last year to draft a QB rather than build a stronger team for their proven franchise QB.

  10. You might be the only one Matt, he had a turnover problem in college, and he still has the same problem.

  11. The Panthers need a new GM, one who knows what he’s doing and has full authority.

  12. Darnold is still an unknown quantity, but so far the results haven’t been good. Maybe the Panthers will put Darnold in a position to succeed, unlike his former team.

  13. first play of his career was a pick six to detroit ha. they went on to win that game, but as a Jet fan I remember feeling the balloon burst right there

  14. You believe in a QB who sees ghosts of dead football players when he is under center? What is next? A running back who sees the tooth fairy?

  15. If the Panthers are committed to helping Darnold succeed, he has a decent chance. It would help him a lot if CMC is healthy.

  16. Rhule might be betting his job on Sam Darnold panning out.

    It’s hard to see the wisdom in that.

  17. They believed in Bridgewater last season, too. They really really want Sam to be the answer, but the truth is it’s shot in the dark.

  18. Sam Darnold had the same problems in college he has today. The QB coach that Darnold pays money too has made vague comments alluding the guys who aren’t committed to do the work once he’s not right there correcting them and revert to their old ways.

    Adam Gase was a bad coach, offensive coordinatior and QB coach, but Darnold is a bad QB.

  19. i’m not giving up on sam until i see him with a coach not named adam gase…look at tannehill’s resurgence and he was left for dead

  20. “You might be the only one Matt, he had a turnover problem in college, and he still has the same problem”.

    Yep, his style of play has not evolved since he was in college. There is no evidence to suggest it will change now.

  21. That’s the right call. I get that college football fans believe that anyone projected high on their fantasy drafts are a sure thing but real world stats say otherwise. A number of these kids will probably be in the same position Darnold is in right now in a few years. Much better to go with the kid with three season of experience that you believe you can coach up to play now then the unknown player who might need 2 or 3 years to develop starting this season to get to that point.

  22. Only the very desperate Bears traded up for Fields, guessing his grade wasn’t that great with other teams and Carolina probably has a higher grade for Darnold then Fields and wasn’t worth the pick and risk, maybe if he was available in the second round. Don’t forget the epic failure of the Bears with trading up on desperation for Mitchell.

  23. Good move, as good as Fields could be, that can also be Sam Darnold. As good as Fields could be, he also has bust potential, just like Sam did got New York. Really the only quarterback worth taking over Sam in this draft to me was Trevor Lawrence though I understand New York wanting Zach Wilson. Sometimes it’s best to start fresh

  24. Rhule of thumb, don’t put all your eggs in the Sam Darnold basket.

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