So, to review:
In the same week as Zach Wilson, the Jets’ No. 2-overall pick in the 2021 draft, was benched, Sam Darnold, the No. 3-overall pick by the Jets in 2018 and the quarterback they gave up on to draft Wilson, has been named the Panthers’ starter Sunday against the Broncos, taking the job held by Baker Mayfield, the 2018 No. 1-overall pick by the Browns.
Got all that?
“It’s a crazy business,’’ Darnold told reporters this past week.
It’s been a crazy year in Carolina, where the Panthers are 3-8, fired head coach Matt Rhule, to whom they paid a lot of guaranteed money, and cannot settle on a quarterback.
It can’t be easy to be a Panthers fan.
And, all due respect to Darnold, but if Carolina fans believe he’s some sort of savior, they’ll find themselves more disappointment.
Darnold will be the third quarterback to start for the Panthers in three weeks. Mayfield has been benched.
Mayfield had beaten out Darnold for the starting job in an open competition during training camp. Then, after going 1-4 and with Darnold out with an ankle injury, he suffered a high ankle sprain that led to P.J. Walker starting. Walker is now out after suffering a high ankle sprain, and Mayfield is out again after throwing two fourth-quarter interceptions in Sunday’s 13-3 loss to the Ravens.
Got all that?
All the while, Panthers interim coach Steve Wilks, who’s gone 2-4 after Rhule was fired, continues to search for answers at quarterback.
“It is a crazy year,’’ Mayfield told reporters this past week. “There’s a lot of strange things happening [at quarterback around the league]. The [Panthers’] quarterback room has pretty much handled it in the best way possible, rolling with the punches. We’re just doing what we’re told.’’
It’s been quite a fall for Mayfield and Darnold. Both are damaged goods, having had multiple opportunities.
The Panthers currently hold the No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft and will almost certainly use it on a quarterback, a position that has been a black hole since Cam Newton suffered a shoulder injury in 2018. They’ve had eight different starters since.
It’s difficult to imagine Mayfield or Darnold still with the team in 2023.
“There’s a lot of things up in the air for the future here, so I don’t really know,’’ Mayfield said. “I’m doing what I can, what I can control. I know how my teammates feel about me and how I’ve handled things here. So, I can leave here with my head high and understand that I did everything I could.’’
Wilks said he’s starting Darnold on Sunday to give him another chance despite Darnold having gone 4-7 as the starter last season and with a Total QBR of 38.6 that ranked ahead of only Zach Wilson (33.4) and Chicago’s Justin Fields (31.4).
Wilks declined to say what he might do if Walker is ready to return after next week’s bye. Mayfield, for one, sounds like a guy who knows he’s a goner.
“Did I draw it up this way? No,’’ Mayfield said. “You’ve got to handle the situation everywhere you go. It’s never gonna go as planned. That’s kind of how the season’s gone.’’
When Darnold was asked if he was aware of the Jets benching of Wilson this week and said, “I’m not really paying too much attention to what’s going on over there. But I did see it. It’s a crazy business.’’