Panthers named 'chaos' team of NFC South

Anthony Rizzuti
Panthers Wire

The Carolina Panthers and the word “chaos” have kind of gone hand in hand over the past few seasons.

How else can you really describe their furious shuffling of mediocre quarterbacks and the whirlwind of a regime led by head coach Matt Rhule? Even their Rock Hill venture has gone straight to . . . heck.

But NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks just put a positive spin on Carolina’s turbulent nature, naming the Panthers his “chaos” team for the NFC South.

So, what is a “chaos” team? Well, it’s an unexpected contender of sorts—a squad that’ll “upset the apple cart.” And Brooks believes this roster just might have what it takes to turn the conference over in 2022.

“The Panthers are a quarterback away from emerging as a playoff contender this season,” Brooks writes. “Matt Rhule’s team has enough blue-chip players on each side of the ball to go toe-to-toe with the heavyweights in the league, but the embattled coach must pick the right quarterback at the end of training camp to give his team a chance to earn an elusive playoff berth.”

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule works the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

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That embattled coach will be gauging the battle between Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. Mayfield, who was just acquired a week and a half ago, is the early favorite for the starting job—even despite Darnold’s advantage from a familiarity standpoint.

Brooks then goes on to laud Carolina’s defense—a unit that allowed the second fewest yards in 2021. Just as long as they can pick the right passer, the Panthers might see their offense move up right around par with that side of the ball.

“With a defense that has top-five potential to support the winner of the quarterback competition, the Panthers’ chances of securing a playoff berth for the first time since the 2017 season hinge on the team’s ability to pick the right QB1,” he adds. “If either quarterback can deliver consistent production for a Carolina offense that features a handful of big-play weapons, this is the team that could follow the Bengals’ blueprint to contention.”

Unfortunately, the Panthers don’t have a Joe Burrow to help bring their situation along a bit quicker. Nonetheless, these cats could also sneak up in their division this season.