While the LA Chargers can take solace in the fact that they are apparently set at quarterback for the next decade thanks to Justin Herbert, not every team in the league can claim to be so lucky. The Carolina Panthers are one such team, as their frustration with Sam Darnold finally boiled over.
The Panthers made a move that many predicted months before, acquiring Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns. Between the ineptitude of Darnold over the last few years and the fact that rookie Matt Corral is nowhere close to starting right now, Mayfield takes over as the projected starter.
The Panthers are trying everything they can to build a winner this year and save Matt Rhule's job, but all of that movement can't hold a candle to what teams like the Chargers have been doing. Herbert has been so dominant in the last two seasons that he outclasses the entire Carolina quarterback room put together.
Since the start of the 2020 season, Herbert has thrown for more touchdowns (76) than Darnold and Mayfield combined (70). The 2018 duo has just under 2,000 more passing yards than Herbert despite appearing in 22 more games.
Chargers QB Justin Herbert is outperforming the Panthers
The Chargers could have been sentenced to a decade in quarterback purgatory after Philip Rivers left, but they instead trusted their scouting and landing Herbert. Carolina has flailed around aimlessly after Cam Newton started to fall off, and it's contributed to their struggles in the last few years.
The Panthers gave Teddy Bridgewater a three-year contract. Halfway through the following season, Bridgewater was in Denver, offensive coordinator Joe Brady was fired, and Darnold was on the verge of being benched. All Herbert did in that time was win Rookie of the Year and throw for 5,000 yards. Ho-hum.
Now more than ever in this league, having a reliable downfield passer is valuable. Carolina has an All-Pro running back in Christian McCaffrey and some very solid pieces on defense, but they are naught but ash in the hands of a quarterback situation as chaotic as this. Herbert is becoming more valuable every day.
Even though LA could still use one or two more impact players on defense and have the misfortune of playing in the toughest division in football, Herbert's mighty arm is keeping them in the contention hunt. Knowing that Oregon's finest can perform as well as an entire collection of young quarterbacks combined has to be quite the feeling for Brandon Staley.