So much for the Sam Darnold redemption tour.
Three games into his Panthers tenure, Darnold had an undefeated record which hinted the 24-year-old may finally be realizing his potential as a franchise quarterback, all the while adding another reason to keep already sleepless Jets fans up at night.
A month later, the Panthers are on a four-game losing streak and Darnold looks like he’s seeing ghosts again as he most recently was benched in the fourth quarter of a 15-3 game which Carolina eventually lost to the Giants, 25-3.
“Very hard to watch,” former Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme, now the team’s radio analyst, told the Charlotte Observer after the game.
It has been a struggle for Darnold since the Panthers lost star running back Christian McCaffrey in Week 3. He threw three interceptions in a loss to the Eagles, completed 17-of-41 passes in a loss to the Vikings and threw for just 111 yards in his return to MetLife Stadium Sunday, his first game there since the Jets traded him during the offseason.
While Delhomme — who led the Panthers to an appearance in Super Bowl 38 in the 2003-04 season — thinks Darnold has the physical tools to succeed, he doesn’t like what he’s seen lately.
“Last week was not good,” Delhomme told the outlet. “His feet were a little all over the place. I thought maybe there was some predetermining where he was going to go with the ball … Even the checkdowns weren’t accurate.
“And I just think that’s more of a function of paralysis by analysis. I think he’s thinking way too much right now.”
Darnold’s benching prompted speculation about the Panthers’ interest in Deshaun Watson, whom the Texans reportedly have an agreement to trade to the Dolphins pending the resolution of the 22 civil lawsuits filed against Watson alleging sexual misconduct. The Panthers, according to NFL Network, are not pursuing Watson.
Delhomme isn’t ready to give up on Darnold just yet.
“No, I’m not. And listen, I understand how bad last week was. We know it wasn’t good. Everybody knows,” Delhomme said. “And (Darnold) doesn’t show a ton of emotion, right? He’s very measured. I just want to see him relax and breathe a little bit.
“Maybe last week was a culmination. He wanted to play well. It’s back in New York. … Did that make him want to be perfect?
“He’s got to get better. It’s very simple. Nobody is coming to save us. Do I sound like (former Panther coach) John Fox? Well, he was right. Nobody is coming to save us, so how are we going to respond?”
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