Image Credit: (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
No matter what is going on in the preseason there is always a positional battle that takes place. The one position battle that everyone always keeps an eye on is the quarterback position. After all it is one of the most important positions on offense. There are a few teams that have the QB battle for the Week 1 spot including the Seattle Seahawks (Drew Lock vs Geno Smith), Pittsburgh Steelers (Mason Rudolph vs Mitchell Trubisky vs Kenny Pickett), Atlanta Falcons (Marcus Mariota vs Desmond Ridder) and especially the Carolina Panthers. The players battling for the QB spot are Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, PJ Walker, and Matt Corral. It is a battle to watch, however I got to be honest, the way the Panthers are handling this QB battle has got to be one of the most strangest ones I have seen in awhile.
It all falls on head coach Matt Rhule who to me is absolutely on the hot seat this season. One of the reasons why is his tactics on how he has handled the QB position. Look at last year, as I said as with Carolina that they used a strange QB system where they constantly rotated QB’s. It was weird and the moment the rotation happened as well were bizarre too due to Cam Newton’s decline, PJ Walker’s inconsistency, and Sam Darnold seeing ghosts. It was weird and the Panthers needed a new QB. Cam’s arm was cooked and he was not coming back, but Carolina did next to nothing to help fix the QB position during free agency.
What they did do for the QB position was at a weird timing. In the 2022 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers decided to trade up in the 3rd round (As they had no Day 2 pick) and they selected QB Matt Corral. I did not mind the move as it was clear and still is today that Darnold along with Walker are not the QB’s long term. Which is why Carolina decided to acquire Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a late round pick. Now I thought about this a few months later, but making this move told me that they don’t have faith in either Darnold or Walker. I would add Corral to that list, but because he is a prospect in his rookie year I decided not to. But acquiring Baker also told me that Corral is not even close to being ready for the starting QB spot for Carolina.
So it is now preseason time and this is a big opportunity for the Panthers QB’s to show what they got on the field. You think Carolina would run this battle properly right, well you would be wrong. Week 1 was handled pretty well with all the 4 QB’s getting an opportunity to start, however in regards to Week 2 it was another strange decision that makes no sense. Before the Panthers performed against the New England Patriots, the team's twitter account made this tweet below.
I saw this tweet and I was confused. Why are the Panthers not playing Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold? Are they both injured? Is the QB Battle still ongoing? That is not the weirdest part of this, Why are the Panthers alternating QB’s per quarter? Apparently they did this because the coaching staff wanted to give both PJ and Corrall to work with the same groups in the entire game equally. Which I get what they were going for, but it makes no sense as it was clear Walker was being more utilized in this game then Corral was. Just doing this in general, just ruins the rhythm of flow in a game and it just does not make any sense. I have seen many ask, why the Panthers are utilizing PJ more than Corral. Well that answer is obvious because PJ and Rhule have a close connection when they were both at Temple University.
Well this system may have been a bad idea with the recent news of rookie 3rd rounder Matt Corral’s injury. Matt Corral left the 4th quarter early due to a foot injury. He limped off the field and went x-rays in the locker room. It was not a good sign that he left with a walking boot on his foot. I was watching this game and while watching this I was not surprised he got hurt as the rhythm of flow was disrupted. Many hoped his injury would be a sprain, but unfortunately that was not the case. Matt Corral has suffered a lisfranc injury that is going to take him out for the rest of the season, which sucks. Corral maybe a rookie, but lisfranc injuries are no joke and hopefully he can be healthier the next time he plays.
Overall we can agree that this QB battle has been an absolute mess. The Panthers better know what they are doing, because I am still lost with some of the tactics that this team is using. The Panthers must make the playoffs this season, or else there will be coaches out of a job at the end of the season, Matt Rhule especially. I wish them luck for this season and hopefully they make the right decision with the quarterback position.