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Bryce Young

Can second-year quarterback turn things around?

Top pick Bryce Young was a disaster as a rookie. He struggled all year, with everyone saying he was too small to be a good quarterback (and the fact that the guy drafted one pick later, C.J. Stroud, was the best first-year passer in years didn't help). But I think it's too soon to give up on him.

I haven't always felt this way, but I'm open to the possibility he can be salvaged. It's not just because the Panthers have made efforts to upgrade the team in free agency and the draft, on the offensive line (Robert Hunt, Damien Lewis) and at the skill positions (Diontae Johnson, Xavier Legette, Jonathon Brooks).

Most importantly, hiring Dave Canales as head coach looks like the critical move.

It's Canales' first head coaching job, but he's been working with offenses (and quarterbacks specifically) for a number of years. First he was a longtime assistant with the Seahawks, but then in 2018 he took over as quarterback coach. For the next five years, working with Russell Wilson and then Geno Smith, he held the positions of quarterback coach and passing game coordinator. Then he moved to Tampa Bay as offensive coordinator, working with Baker Mayfield.

The results were pretty great. Different ways of measuring it, but I'm going with passer rating. That was one of the bigger eyesores of Carolina's offense last year, with its passer rating of 75.2 just 30th in the NFL. But Canales' offenses the past six years have regularly been among the league's best in that regard.

Over the past six seasons, we've got 192 total passer ratings (32 teams times six). Of those 192 offenses, the ones Canales has been connected to have ranked 5th, 16th, 18th, 26th, 42nd and 69th overall -- all of them in the top 35 percent, two-thirds in the top 15 percent.

The last two years, with Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield running the offense, Canales' teams have ranked 4th and 10th in passer rating. Table is sorted by 2023 passer rating; Canales' employers are in bold.

TEAM PASSER RATING, 2018-2023
Team181920212223
San Francisco87.8103.190.199.2102.3110.2
Dallas96.799.589.9104.887.9104.6
Baltimore84.0109.095.784.482.5102.5
Miami93.080.091.285.495.0101.2
Detroit88.588.293.388.199.398.1
Denver82.184.172.591.781.296.7
Green Bay93.795.3121.5107.491.996.4
Houston102.995.3112.385.276.896.2
New Orleans112.3110.2104.187.493.694.8
Tampa Bay94.184.1102.8101.689.894.2
Cincinnati87.076.285.7106.9101.093.0
Minnesota99.7103.9105.0101.693.192.4
Buffalo62.682.8107.691.395.892.2
LA Chargers104.989.097.097.493.391.8
Seattle110.9105.3105.0103.1100.090.7
LA Rams100.785.688.4101.682.390.0
Kansas City113.8104.4107.398.1104.789.6
Jacksonville79.190.083.972.193.989.3
Philadelphia100.792.172.989.299.089.2
Indianapolis98.285.095.993.579.285.0
Pittsburgh95.576.193.585.378.784.6
NY Giants92.786.479.670.191.183.4
Tennessee89.8108.3105.990.085.383.2
Arizona69.087.094.1100.679.282.9
Chicago95.483.986.575.580.382.2
Washington78.183.080.185.884.781.6
Atlanta108.093.893.986.687.780.5
Las Vegas93.6101.0100.493.886.780.1
Carolina92.974.787.568.580.275.2
New England97.888.281.195.587.773.8
Cleveland88.878.496.684.684.973.7
NY Jets73.080.675.976.075.070.5

Canales yesterday was quoted saying that Young is doing fantastic in the new offense; that's he's mastered learning the routes and doing the footwork necessary. To some extent, such hype is to be expected, building up his young quarterback's confidence. Which probably needs it.

But Canales has enough of a track record that I'm willing to buy in, at least as far as believing it's possible. Worth nothing that both Russell Wilson (who yes was good before Canales showed up) and Mayfield have less than ideal height, as well, and Mayfield just had his best season in Canales' offense.

I don't imagine I'll be drafting Young anywhere or trading for him in dynasty. But it's too soon to say it's over. If coaching is the most important thing for a young quarterback, it feels like Carolina has at least made the correct move in that regard.

--Andy Richardson

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