When legendary USC Football QB Sam Darnold suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason for the Carolina Panthers, the hope would be that he'd only miss four weeks. That way, if starting QB Baker Mayfield proves to be worse than Darnold, Darnold will be able to replace him and prevent Mayfield from playing deep into the season.
There was, however, the chance that Darnold would miss six weeks. Will he miss the full six? That is yet to be determined. Panther Head Coach Matt Rhule, however, did determine that Darnold is not healthy enough to take over right now:
It's unfortunate news not only for Darnold, but for the Panthers as well. Darnold was better last year with the Panthers than Mayfield has been this year, and that's with Carolina franchise player Christian McCaffrey healthy all year this year.
Darnold only had him healthy for three games and part of a fourth. Check out the numbers breakdown of Mayfield this year (on the left) versus Darnold last year (on the right):
1-3 W-L record//////////4-7 W-L record
54.7% completion %//////////59.9% completion %
186.8 passing yards per game//////////210.6 passing yards per game
15.4 QBR//////////33.2 QBR
2.9 yards per carry//////////4.6 yards per carry
It's safe to say that former USC Football QB Sam Darnold was better last year than what Mayfield has been this year.
It's especially true because the former USC Football signal-caller, Sam Darnold, was playing with a much worse offensive line than what Mayfield is working with. Not to mention, check out Darnold's numbers before McCaffrey went down to injury last year:
3-0 W-L record
68.2% completion percentage
296 passing yards per game
6 total touchdowns (3 passing)
8.3 passing yards per attempt
Mayfield hasn't come close to this level of performance, despite having McCaffrey healthy all season. Unfortunately for the Panthers, though, Darnold will not be available this week. Next week, however, is an option.
Therefore, if Mayfield continues to look awful in Carolina against the San Francisco 49ers this week, Darnold could at least be able to come back for Week 6 against the Rams, who Darnold beat in the one matchup he's had against them.
He played outstanding football in that game, completing 71% of his tosses with a touchdown and no turnovers despite having the worst head coach and worst supporting cast in football that season with the New York Jets. Perhaps he can rekindle some of that magic with a healthy McCaffrey and better offensive line than last year this time.