Rhule says skid starts with Darnold: 'Sam's not playing well enough'

Mike Comer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule identified quarterback Sam Darnold as the primary cause of a three-game losing streak that's soured a promising start to the season.

"Sam's not playing well enough, let's start there," Rhule told reporters Monday.

He continued: "That means the offensive line isn't getting it done for him, that means the running backs aren't getting it done for him. Everyone on offense - every receiver, every tight end, every back, every O-lineman - their job is to help our quarterback play well. We are not getting that done."

Darnold completed only 17 of 41 passes during the Panthers' overtime loss against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The 24-year-old has thrown six interceptions amid the skid.

Carolina acquired Darnold - the third overall pick in 2018 - from the New York Jets in exchange for a second-rounder this past offseason. Darnold was plagued by turnovers throughout his Jets tenure but avoided such mistakes during the Panthers' three-game win streak earlier this campaign.

Sam Darnold passing stats

CMP TD INT Rating
Weeks 1-3 68.2% 3 1 99
Weeks 4-6 54.7% 4 6 62.1

"The shame of the game yesterday, to me, when you really go back and watch the game, is we ran the football well. We just have not been committed enough to running it, and that's going to change, I can tell you right now," Rhule said. "You'll see a vastly different look from us moving forward. We're not going to line up and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that's gonna win the game for us. It hasn't."

The Panthers logged 23 rush attempts against the Vikings, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Even without Christian McCaffrey, rookie Chuba Hubbard has given Carolina a viable run game.

"We're gonna redefine who we are," Rhule said. "We're gonna run the football, and we're gonna protect our quarterback, and we're not gonna turn the football over anymore. That's the only way that we're gonna win."

The Panthers will travel to face the struggling New York Giants in Week 7.

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Rhule says skid starts with Darnold: 'Sam's not playing well enough'
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