Seven sacks, twelve QB hits. That's the amount of pressure the Dallas Cowboys' defense put on Carolina Panthers rookie QB Bryce Young on Sunday. Unfortunately, those pressure numbers aren't out of the norm. Over the last five games, Young has been sacked a total of 24 times.
The abysmal play up front from the offensive line is one of the many reasons why Young shouldn't be written off. Furthermore, it's impossible to get a true evaluation on him with the lack of support he has around him. At this point, it's just about Young getting to the end of the season healthy and not losing confidence in his game along the way.
According to head coach Frank Reich, Young's confidence is not a concern despite the horrendous start to the season.
"I don't (have concerns), because of who he is as a person. I just think that's one thing that was clear in the draft process, that his mental toughness and character to me is unquestioned. Nobody is perfect. We all have weaknesses. We all struggle at times mentally, all of us do. Even the most confident guys, the best players in the world, everybody does. I'm sure Bryce has his struggles. But I also believe that he's got an inner strength that has helped him get to where he's gotten to. Even though we all know he's won a lot of games in high school and college, I think he's made to handle stuff like this, and I don't think he'll accept it. I think he'll continue to elevate his game and elevate this team, and it might just take -- it's taken longer than we all wanted it to, but I can tell you it's not on his shoulders. We all have a part of it. Every person has a part of it, player and coach, and so we handle it collectively."
Reich's opinion of Young as a franchise quarterback has also not wavered.
"Listen, obviously watching him closely, I'm very encouraged and optimistic about a lot of things and who he is and the player he is. He can make every throw, how he processes it, how he's handling a difficult season so far. I really respect the way he's handling himself and fighting through it. Physically, I see him every day working hard, getting better, understanding what we're doing, why we're doing it, being engaged in the process, him being engaged in the process more and more. He's great to work with. I love sitting in those meetings with him. We as a group, trying to figure out ways to get better, make this offense better."
There's a lot of things that Reich has said throughout this stretch of losing that I disagree with. This isn't one of those things. The one knock I had on Young in the draft process was his size. Would he be able to take a beating week in and week out? Would he have issues with batted balls at the line of scrimmage like Baker Mayfield did a year ago? Nine games into his career and he's answered both of those questions. Carolina has arguably one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and is getting hit more than most QBs in the league. He's taken several big hits and outside of an ankle injury that popped up early in the season, he's shown he can absorb hits and many of them at that. And no, the batted balls have not shown up as an issue.
Until the Panthers fix the offensive line and get some receivers that can get separation consistently, it's unfair to judge Young and predict what type of quarterback he will ultimately be. Calling him a bust nine games into his career or saying he doesn't have "it" is just lazy analysis. Right now, the kid doesn't stand a chance because of the situation he's in. It's going to take an offseason, possibly two to get this offense fixed and until that happens, we won't know if Young is the quarterback of the future in Carolina.
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