No quarterbacks, no answers for Panthers

Carolina’s offense hit a new low with only three points in Baltimore

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield speaks at a news conference following Carolina’s 13-3 loss at Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky / AP Photo)

BALTIMORE — A total of 22 men have started at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in the team’s history. Seven of them threw more touchdowns than interceptions as Panthers.

None of those seven are on the current Carolina roster.

The seven quarterbacks combined for 164 of the 208 wins in Panthers team history, had a .518 winning percentage and a combined 84.9 passer rating.

The three current Panthers quarterbacks are a combined 9-16 for the team with a collective passer rating of 70.3.

The Panthers have gone 2-3 under P.J. Walker this season and, after Sunday’s 13-3 loss at Baltimore, Carolina is 1-5 with Baker Mayfield as the starter. Walker is out with a high ankle sprain, so the question after the game was whether interim coach Steve Wilks would stick with Mayfield next week or give the ball to Sam Darnold, who went 4-7 as starter last year.

“It’s too early to say,” Wilks said. “We’ve got to evaluate the tape, and then from there, I’ll make a decision.”

Mayfield’s performance on Sunday, in his first start in a month, certainly didn’t do much to convince Wilks he should get the job. Entering the final two drives of the game, Mayfield had managed just 116 yards passing. He added 80 to that total in hurry-up situations down the stretch, but both of those drives ended in interceptions to seal the loss.

Mayfield admitted that his performance was “not good enough. We didn’t win the game.”

Offenses that produce three total points usually don’t win games.

While Mayfield and the offense struggled, Wilks said he didn’t consider putting Darnold in the game to try to spark something.

“No, not at this particular time,” he said. “Because I felt like, at the flow of the game, it would’ve been a disadvantage to him in trying to throw him in that type of situation and try to go down and win a game for us.”

Of course, prior to the game, Wilks also said it wouldn’t be fair to have Darnold, recovering from an ankle injury that put him on injured reserve to begin the season, return to the field as a starter.

“I just want to be able to get Sam some opportunities,” Wilks said. “Because the first time that he goes in there (as starter), I don’t want it to be the first time (he’s played). I want to be able to get him acclimated a little bit to the speed of the game.”

So, Wilks doesn’t want to put Darnold in as the starter, nor does he want to put him in mid-game.

As for evaluating Mayfield, Wilks went with his quarterback’s nonassessment assessment, saying, “We didn’t win the game, so it wasn’t good enough.”

Discussing the offense as a whole, Wilks added, “We didn’t get anything in rhythm. We’ve got to do a (better) job in the passing game. It wasn’t a great job on our part offensively today.”

Wilks also criticized the fourth quarter failures, saying, “We’ve got to protect the football down the stretch. We had too many turnovers in the fourth quarter.”

Mayfield was also sacked four times, bringing his total to 19 in his six games as starter.

“Too many sacks on our part,” Wilks said. “We’ve got to get rid of the ball.”

While Wilks seemed to put the blame for the sacks on the quarterback rather than the line, Mayfield wasn’t so quick to assume the blame.

“We have to make more plays,” he said. “Batted balls, when they’re (the line) not getting the rush.”

He also said that one of the interceptions was a result of a miscommunication with receiver Shi Smith. “I’m expecting him to run his route. Let’s just get on the same page. It cost us.”

Mayfield, who blamed his poor performance early in the season on joining the team late and having to get up to speed on offense, also wasn’t happy with a Panthers rushing attack that managed just 36 yards on 17 carries.

“It’s tough when you can’t get the run game going,” he said.

So, for next week, it appears that Wilks will need to decide between a quarterback who has no good time to enter a game and one who had far more fingers to point elsewhere than points on the scoreboard.

The old football wisdom on quarterback controversies says that when you have two or three starting quarterbacks, it means you have none. Never has that seemed truer than with this year’s Panthers team.