It was certainly weird, but Ben McAdoo's answer regarding the Carolina Panthers' quarterback competition makes sense. The Panthers offensive coordinator was asked to assess the Panthers' position battle between quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Matt Corral, the fourth quarterback selected in this past year's NFL Draft, is not in the running to be the Panthers' starting quarterback.
Instead of offering a token quote, McAdoo gave a colorful response that revealed the current climate surrounding the Panthers' biggest position battle.
"As long as we don't resort to cannibalism, I think we have a chance to get out of this pretty good," McAdoo said, via the team's official website. "They're both going to be better players after we come out of camp and playing really good football. We're just going to let it play itself out. I think the worst thing you can do is rush to a decision. Just have some patience."
This isn't the first time McAdoo has made headlines during his first year as Panthers' OC. In the spring, he prematurely declared Darnold the team's starting quarterback before quickly walking it back.
"One of the things I've been working on is being better talking to you people," McAdoo said at the time. "So, announcing the starting quarterback here, I just put my foot in my mouth. That wasn't something I should have said."
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The Panthers enjoyed early success with Darnold in 2020, his first season in Carolina after spending this first three seasons with the Jets. Carolina started the season with a 3-0 record before losing four consecutive games. Darnold, who threw seven interceptions during Carolina's losing streak, was later sidelined for five weeks with a shoulder injury. He returned in a relief role during the team's Week 15 loss to the Buccaneers. Darnold then started the Panthers' final two games, an 18-10 loss to the Saints and a 41-17 blowout loss in Tampa. He finished the season with more interceptions (13) than touchdown passes (nine) while failing to complete 60% of his passes.
Despite Darnold's flashes of potential last season, the Panthers, as expected, selected a quarterback during the draft. They further added to the position when they acquired Mayfield last month via a trade with the Browns. Mayfield's up and down tenure in Cleveland included a record-setting rookie season (he broke Peyton Manning's then-rookie record for touchdowns passes) as well as helping the Browns win the franchise's first playoff game in 26 years. It also included two rocky campaigns that included an injury-plagued 2021 season.
Mayfield, despite still being in his first month with the team, has started to distance himself from Darnold in the battle to be the Panthers' starting quarterback, according to The Athletic. It's been a supportive competition between Darnold and Mayfield, and that's more than OK with McAdoo, who dealt with his share of off-field distractions during his run as the New York Giants' head coach.
"Up until this point, when you walked in the room, you didn't know if it was going to be a cold, dark room or what kind of room is going to be," McAdoo said. "But it's certainly not. It's a room where these guys are open, and they have conversations and help each other out. They encourage each other. It has been really good to see. They've been pros. That's what you want."