This Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game won’t feature Kyle Allen at quarterback, or the return of Cam Newton to his familiar spot. Instead, rookie Will Grier gets his first official start as Panthers quarterback when they take on the Indianapolis Colts.
Allen had a good start, but rough six-game stretch
After Cam Newton was sidelined with a Lisfranc injury back in Week 2, Kyle Allen stepped in as the starter and did quite well for a while.
He won his first four starts and ultimately put up a 5-3 record. Some might say a lot of that was thanks to Christian McCaffrey, who began to look like an MVP candidate.
However, Allen started to show issues after those first eight games. The Panthers have now dropped six-straight games, have a 5-9 record, and are out of the playoff picture.
According to ESPN, Allen had 11 interceptions and eight touchdowns during the six-game losing streak. This past Sunday, he threw three of those INTs against the Seattle Seahawks in a 30-24 home loss.
"That's crazy! How do you do that?" ?
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 17, 2019
Grier has shown improvement in practices
With Newton hurt and Allen benched, it’s time for the rookie to get his time to shine. That wasn’t the original plan for the Panthers, per ESPN, as they were going to treat this as a “redshirt season” for Will Grier. However, the situation has changed in Carolina.
Grier was the team’s No. 100 pick in the third round of this past year’s draft. The 6-foot-2 QB played for Florida one year and then West Virginia for two years. His collegiate career included 8,556 yards passing and 81 touchdowns on 621-of-945 completions.
During Monday’s press conference, interim head coach Perry Fewell didn’t mention that Grier would be getting the start. However, Fewell commented that Grier has shown improvement over the months, but while he’s been running the scout team.
Perry Fewell is at the podium https://t.co/Vjs5oNBodO
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 16, 2019
“He’s gotten better with command of the huddle,” Fewell said. “When I see him on the look squad, his voice inflection is good because we ask him to do some hard counts. We’ve asked him to do some things the opponent’s quarterbacks will do. His ability to scramble and throw on the run has gotten better.”
“So he’s progressing as a rookie. He’s not there yet, but he’s progressing,” Fewell added.
Grier played back in the preseason for the team in several games. While preseason isn’t a true indicator of regular-season success for rookies, Grier had an 11-for-18 performance with 189 yards and a touchdown throw in the second half of a Week 4 game against Pittsburgh.
However, he was also picked off once and sacked four times including a strip-sack fumble that got returned 88 yards for a touchdown. At that time, the team moved in favor of Kyle Allen as their No. 2 guy, and he ultimately became the starter.
Now, Will Grier has a chance to get some true job experience as he takes over the Carolina Panthers’ offense. Luckily for him, there is no playoff spot on the line, but he will probably be auditioning for his future.
Sunday’s game starts at 1 p.m. Eastern Time in Indianapolis with FOX televising the matchup.