Carolina Panthers should consider message if they go after Deshaun Watson – Carolina Panthers Blog

October 25, 2021


CHARLOTTE, NC – The question is not whether the Carolina Panthers will go back to chasing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after another failed performance by Sam Darnold on Sunday, this time at MetLife Stadium, where he spent his first three. seasons with the New York Jets.

The question is: Should they go after Watson, a player facing 22 active lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior?

It’s been less than four years since David Tepper, after being unanimously approved as the new owner of the Panthers, spoke about changing the culture of an organization that bought from Jerry Richardson.

The NFL fined Richardson $ 2.75 million after its investigation into alleged misconduct in the workplace, including sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur with a team scout.

“I’ve had a business for 25 years,” Tepper said. “I am a person who believes in equality for everyone, men and women included. … Everything that comes out of this [NFL Richardson investigation] it is the past. The past is the past.”

Going after Watson, as the Panthers did before the league began investigating allegations against the former Clemson star, brings the past to the present. It brings with it something else that Tepper said on May 22, 2018, the day the equipment purchase was made official.

“The first thing that matters to me is winning,” Tepper said. “The second thing that matters to me is winning. The third thing that matters to me is? ”

The Panthers haven’t won since Tepper paid an NFL-record $ 2.275 billion for the franchise. Carolina is a collective 20-35, and 3-4 this season after losing its fourth consecutive game, 25-3 to the New York Giants (2-5).

Darnold was so bad that coach Matt Rhule benched him early in the fourth quarter. For the game, Darnold was 16 of 25 for 111 yards, 0 TD and 1 INT, and his total QBR of 10.7 ranks 21st of 24 quarterbacks in Week 7.

He’s been bad the past four games without star running back Christian McCaffrey (hamstring), throwing seven interceptions and compiling a 28.4 total quarterback rating that ranks 32nd out of 33 qualified quarterbacks during that time. span, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Only Chicago Bears rookie Justin Fields is worse.

This came after compiling a 63.6 QBR the first three games with McCaffrey, who ranked seventh.

Due to Darnold’s recent game, Rhule was questioned after Sunday’s game on whether this shifted the team’s focus toward the November 2 trade deadline.

In other words: Are the Panthers interested in going after Watson now?

Rhule downplayed that, saying, “I can’t look to the future, but I don’t think I will.”

But the most troubling thing about Darnold’s latest mistake was his behavior after being benched.

Rhule said he wanted the loss to “infuriate and upset us.”

Darnold didn’t seem to be either.

Darnold wouldn’t even admit to being embarrassed by the decision to bank him.

“When you get to that point, they push you, I just internalize it,” he said. “Honestly, it’s more about those situations where it is what it is.”

That may be part of Darnold’s problems. He should have been embarrassed and said so. He should have been furious with himself for playing so badly that he had to be benched. Steam should have come out of his forehead instead of a torrent of callous and indifferent quotes about everyone’s lack of execution.

It should have been like defensive end Brian Burns, worried the Panthers are heading for a fourth straight losing season.

“We need to fix it now before it gets scary,” Burns said. “… It’s scary now to be honest.”

Darnold should be scared for his football future.

He failed with the Jets, going 13-25 in his first three seasons after being the third pick in the 2018 draft. Now he is failing with the Panthers.

When asked if it was just a fall, Darnold said, “That’s a good word for that.”

If that’s the case, Darnold has been in a depression for most of his NFL career. You can blame the Jets for not surrounding him with enough talent. Part of what happened in Carolina can be blamed on being without McCaffrey and with an injury-plagued offensive line.

But Giants quarterback Daniel Jones didn’t have franchise running back Saquon Barkley and most of his starting receivers, and yet he found a way to make plays. He even made an excellent one-handed catch in a flea blink.

Darnold, who had his two best receivers, found ways to make plays that hurt the Panthers. He had an intentional ground in the end zone that turned into a safety. He had an interception near the goal line that was not close to his receiver.

He also missed other wide receivers.

Rhule tried to sugarcoat him by saying that the team’s performance was “unacceptable to all of us.” He kept saying, “I don’t want to call anyone.”

But he called Darnold during the game.

He benched him in favor of PJ Walker, an undrafted player who made a brief name for himself in the XFL before meeting his former Temple coach in Carolina last season.

And all Darnold said about it was, “It is what it is.”

So even though Rhule said Darnold will be his starter this week against Atlanta and will move on, things could change.

Don’t forget, in February 2020, Rhule said that he “really wanted” Cam Newton to be part of his first team. A month later, Newton was released and the Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater to replace him.

It remains to be seen if Watson will be involved. League sources told ESPN.com that the Panthers would not mortgage the future and would give up the three first-round picks the Texans supposedly want for Watson.

But sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Panthers are in fact looking at their options for Watson.

The Panthers have already chosen Darnold’s fifth-year option that guarantees him $ 18.8 million in 2022, so that needs to be considered as well. Watson’s base salary is $ 10.5 million in 2021, but increases to $ 35 million in 2022, according to Spotrac.

Rhule admitted later Sunday that he didn’t mean there was nothing on or off the table.

“We’ll see who answers,” Rhule said. “Let’s find out who has that advantage. We want to become a really, really tough franchise. A tough building, and I haven’t made it. When things like this happen, it’s right on my shoulder. I have not done it.

“If we don’t become a tough team soon, we will have to make some big changes.”


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