Coming off the heels of a heart-breaking loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, questions surrounding the Carolina Panthers quarterback situation and their roster still loom large in the Queen City. After several weeks of poor play all around, the organization seems as if they’re headed towards a top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. On the subject of questions regarding the Panthers’ roster, however, none seem to be as heated and serious as those regarding the team’s quarterback play.
With new signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater‘s struggles recently magnified, fans and organization members alike have become increasingly unhappy with the current play of the Panthers’ quarterback, leading many to call on the organization to step in and replace Bridgewater. While it does seem a bit early for a quarterback change in the organization’s rebuild, this situation does bring about an interesting question: Should the Panthers consider another option at quarterback for the remainder of the season?
Evaluating the Carolina Panthers and Their Quarterback Situation
For those who don’t catch very much Panthers’ football, the opening statement may have come as a shock. To be fair, Teddy Bridgewater has looked good in some aspects of his play. At face value, Bridgewater looks to be having one of, if not his best season to date. In 2020, Bridgewater has completed 70.7% of his passes while sporting the black and blue, with fourteen of those passes landing in the end-zone for touchdowns. In addition to posting a QBR of 68.3, Bridgewater has also thrown for 3,102 yards, a near career-high for him. While his play looks favorable on the stat sheet, fans have not been so impressed with his decision-making and unwillingness to air the ball out downfield.
Perhaps the biggest gripe regarding Bridgewater is that fans feel as though he becomes too comfortable in the pocket in crunch-time situations. This becomes painfully obvious when watching the Panthers’ offense late in games, with Bridgewater seemingly lacking urgency. There are plenty of examples this season with the Panthers’ being involved in one-score ball games, but the offense failing to produce due to Bridgewater’s unwillingness to throw the ball downfield or poor clock management. On the outside looking in, this has to be one of the most painful ways to lose a game. With that being said, fans have become increasingly upset with this failure to operate in late-game situations after seeing the phenomena occur multiple weeks in a row.
While Bridgewater has had his fair share of struggles, it hasn’t been all negative. As demonstrated on the stat sheet, Bridgewater has been productive in 2020. His level-headed demeanor and great leadership skills have helped develop a young Panthers’ team. With one of the youngest rosters in the league, Bridgewater seems to be the right quarterback for the Panthers currently. Overall, Bridgewater has had his flaws shown throughout the season, but has managed to be a serviceable option for the Panthers at the quarterback position.
While it seems early to make a quarterback change, Carolina does have some options.
The Panthers already have an idea of what the former XFL star P.J. Walker can do when handed the reigns. In Week 11, Walker stepped in for an injured Bridgewater, leading the Panthers to a much-needed victory. Walker completed 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown in the win versus the Detroit Lions. This included a nice 17-yarder to Curtis Samuel, putting the Panthers up by two scores early on in the matchup. While Walker did open up some eyes during his first NFL start, everything wasn’t always smooth sailing. Walker also managed to throw two rough interceptions in the win, which could have cost the Panthers big-time.
In the case of Walker, the Panthers are getting a guy who is definitely willing to throw the ball downfield but also may throw a few too many interceptions in the process. While Walker isn’t the only option the Panthers have on their roster, he certainly remains the most favorable one.
Since entering into the league several years back, West Virginia product Will Grier hasn’t had many opportunities to shine with the Panthers. While Grier hasn’t played much on the big stage, perhaps his best performance came in Week 4 of the 2019 preseason. During a matchup with the New England Patriots, Grier finished with 385 passing yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.
This game basically represents Grier and his play-style in a nutshell. Grier is and always will be a gunslinger, but he tends to struggle with accuracy when throwing deep balls. This, as shown earlier, can lead to him racking up a large number of interceptions. All in all, Grier is a quality backup, which is where he should be. In this situation, Grier likely shouldn’t be the pick for Matt Rhule and his staff should they look to shutdown Bridgewater.
The State of the Carolina Panthers Quarterback Situation
With all of that being said, I think the choice for Carolina here is clear. The team should ride with Bridgewater throughout the remainder of the season, assuming his play remains average. Bridgewater, while having his negatives and flaws here and there, still provides the Panthers with the best chance to win. His calm and cool play-style provides Carolina with a capable single-caller at the position. However, should Carolina choose to shut Bridgewater down, P.J. Walker looks to be the best option. Walker’s experience and play-style make him the most favorable option in this scenario, should the Panthers decide to go that route.
All in all, it seems as if Bridgewater is the clear cut answer in this situation. While he may not be their franchise quarterback of the future, Panthers’ fans will need to be patient. At this point, it seems futile to make a quarterback change with only a few weeks left in the season.
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