Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo told reporters Tuesday that Sam Darnold is the team's starting quarterback, but he admitted shortly thereafter that wasn't something he should have said.
Darnold is entering his fifth NFL season and his second in Carolina. He completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,527 yards (6.2 per attempt) with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2021.
It was not a good year for Darnold, who tied for 31st among 33 qualifiers in quarterback rating and was 31st in QBR, per Pro Football Reference. A fractured scapula also forced him to miss five weeks.
It was also a disastrous year for Carolina, which started 3-0 but went 2-12 in its last 14 games to finish 5-12. Running back Christian McCaffrey, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2019, missed 10 games because of an ankle injury.
Numerous coaching changes have taken place in response to the Panthers' performance.
Joe Brady, the Panthers' ex-OC, was let go in December. McAdoo, who was once the New York Giants' offensive coordinator (2014-15) before being promoted to head coach (2016-17), took his place this offseason.
It's his job to overhaul an offense that finished 29th in scoring last year. McAdoo believes there are pieces in place to get the job done in Charlotte, though, and he thinks Darnold can turn it around.
Darnold is currently the top option on the Panthers' depth chart, which only has one other quarterback in P.J. Walker. The former XFL star completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 362 yards (5.5 per attempt) with one touchdown and three interceptions in five games (one start) last year.
Carolina also has an interesting choice to make at No. 6 overall when the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28 in Las Vegas. The team could take a quarterback and give that player the keys to the franchise, or it can try to build around Darnold and perhaps add an offensive tackle.
The Panthers, who don't have another pick until No. 137, could also look to trade down to acquire more draft capital.
Ultimately, there's a lot of uncertainty in Carolina as the team looks for its first playoff appearance since 2017.