It is often said around the NFL that if you don’t have a franchise quarterback, it is extremely difficult to maintain sustained success. Most teams are well aware of this, and look at every alternative in order to find the signal caller that will lead them to the promised land. The Carolina Panthers and Washington Commanders both made both offseason moves to find their solution at quarterback, and will get a first look at their new acquisitions this weekend.
The Panthers were desperate to find an answer at quarterback, having gone through three players at the position during the 2021 season. Sam Darnold, Cam Newton and P.J. Walker all got chances to lead Carolina last year, but the organization was not satisfied that the long term answer was on the roster.
As a result, the front office made two acquisitions in the offseason. They selected Matt Corral in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss. In July, Carolina made a blockbuster trade to bring in former Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield.
With the acquisition of Mayfield, Carolina now has the first overall pick and the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on their roster, and they will compete for the starting job. Based on what the Panthers gave the Browns, it seems like the organization is hopeful that Mayfield can play well enough to secure the job in August. Darnold cannot be counted out though, as he got off to a hot start in the 2021 season for Carolina, and could play well enough in the preseason to make the decision more difficult. Both players’ performance against Washington will factor into who gets the job.
Meanwhile, the Commanders have also been trying to find their answer at quarterback, which has been a weak spot for them on an otherwise talented roster. Washington has had eight different players start at quarterback for them over the last three seasons, and is hoping that new quarterback Carson Wentz can finally give them some stability.
Wentz has had some durability issues of his own, missing a few games in several seasons throughout his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, he did manage to stay healthy over the entire season last year with the Indianapolis Colts, suiting up for all 17 regular season games. Head coach Ron Rivera has already confirmed his new quarterback will play in the preseason opener.
This weekend’s game may also give us clues as to who will surround Wentz during the course of the season. Washington has hinted that they will not rely exclusively on one running back this year, which is interesting news for presumed number one running back Antonio Gibson. Gibson has been dealing with a hamstring injury during the early portion of training camp, and probably cannot afford to miss too much more time. The Commanders seem committed to featuring J.D. McKissic on passing downs this year, and sprinkling in Brian Robinson in short yardage and goal line situations.