Only losing for C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young can save Panthers

NFL teams don’t tank, not the way you think it does.

Players are not interested in improving their draft pick position. He’s just a new guy who wants to get his job. Coaches have no job security to lose games. Tanking cannot be done from top to bottom or the team will be in trouble. (Well, sort of.)

But there is little doubt that the best course for the Carolina Panthers and many other teams this season is to lose. The Panthers play the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night in a game broadcast by Amazon Prime Video and they will try to win as best they can, although the direction of the franchise looks brighter if they don’t.

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The Panthers have a problem that many other teams suddenly have: They need a quarterback. The best way to solve that problem is by design.

Panthers in line for the top pick

In the latest NFL mock draft by Yahoo Sports’ Charles McDonald, he had quarterbacks CJ Stroud of Ohio State, Bryce Young of Alabama and Will Levis of Kentucky among the top six. Levis is a tick behind the other two. But we’ve seen quarterbacks increase in the draft process after the season is over. It’s possible, given how many teams need quarterbacks, that QB could end up 1-2-3. Others could get into the first round, but there is clearly an upper level.

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The higher you go in the draft, the better perspective you will get. The NFL draft has many flaws, but the team’s lineup is also far more accurate than anyone would like to admit.

The Panthers now have the second overall pick in the draft. They are 2-7, in part because their quarterback play has been abysmal. Baker Mayfield didn’t play well to start the season, then he got hurt, and PJ Walker had some surprisingly bad games. The Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders also have just two wins, but their bye loss is low. There are nine teams with three wins (the Indianapolis Colts are tied for three wins).

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Any win by the Panthers could give them a few spots in the draft rankings. Instead of Stroud, Young or Levis leading a new era, they could be stuck trying to find a gem from the front row, or trade expensive picks to move up.

Not that Stroud, Young or Levis are sure things, but you’d rather take a chance on them than any viable QB option for 2023 and beyond. The Panthers tried to trade veterans like Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Mayfield to no avail. They are stuck until they get a decent QB.

The truth is, most of the above applies to the Falcons as well.

PJ Walker wasn't the answer for the Panthers, who may be quietly hoping they get a chance to draft one of their top QB prospects next spring.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

PJ Walker wasn’t the answer for the Panthers, who may be quietly hoping they get a chance to draft one of their top QB prospects next spring. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Falcons and Panthers struggle at QB

Atlanta’s quarterback is Marcus Mariota, and they want him to throw as little as possible. The Falcons have 201 pass attempts. Only the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears have fewer attempts. Even in a 35-17 Week 7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in which the Falcons trailed by double digits for nearly the final 50 minutes of the game, they attempted just 13 passes. Rookie Desmond Ridder may be the QB of the future but it’s no sure thing. You can fairly put them on the list of teams that will be in the mix for the first round quarterback next April.

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The Falcons are currently in play for the 15th overall pick and it will be tough to get a quarterback from there. Atlanta is also tied for first place in a tight NFC South, so they don’t have to worry about their pick in the draft.

The Panthers should be. They’ve already fired head coach Matt Rhule and assuming interim coach Steve Wilks doesn’t get a full-time job, one of the big selling points for the Panthers to this season’s top contenders will be a fresh start with an exciting top quarterback prospect. be If the Panthers don’t draft in the top five or 10, it’s a tougher sell.

Carolina will try to win on Thursday night. Players are still proud and want to do the best for their career. But the truth is, for the future of the Panthers, a loss would not be the worst outcome, although no one would say that.

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