For the third straight day, Teddy Bridgewater was limited at practice, but by all accounts did not practice at all. This leaves the Panthers with an interesting QB if he is unable to go.
They do have second-year man Will Grier from WVU that the Panthers drafted in the third round, who many are angry we took instead of Chauncy Gardner Johnson, who later became a Saint. On the other hand, they have XFL phenom PJ Walker whose three years removed from Temple under Coach Rhule.
Back in September, we were given this quote from Matt Rhule, “The great thing about what we have going on is we have two young quarterbacks that we believe can win and be starting quarterbacks. I would anticipate that being a week-by-week decision.”
It’s time to put his money where his mouth is and it couldn’t come at a better time. Detroit is arguably the worst team left on the schedule and by far the weakest defense. It’s time to see whether Will Grier is a long term back up answer or another wasted Marty Hurney pick. Whether Walker is the answer or was simply in his own class that belongs in the XFL.
In Will Grier, you get a former four-star quarterback from NC who ultimately committed to Florida. 2015 saw him start off 6-0 for the Gators before getting hit with a banned substance suspension. He ultimately lost his job due to that and other highly touted QB recruits coming in.
He transferred to WVU and found great success in their air-raid style offense while posting gaudy numbers. Jr year: 3500 yards 34 TDs and 12 ints. Sr year: 3800 yards 37 TDs and only 8 ints. He came in garbage time last year under the Ron Rivera regime and did not impress, throwing for 230 yards and 4 ints. In limited action, he has hardly inspired confidence with the fanbase and it’s hard to blame them.
I would, however, pump the brakes on writing him off just yet. The team last year was lightyears worse than this one, and a team that had quit on its coaching staff; nobody would have succeeded in that system. With a solid deep ball and the ability to move the pocket, it’s easy to think he would have success in the Joe Brady system.
PJ Walker burst onto the XFL scene in 2019 and was the league MVP while tossing 1300 yards, 15 TDs, and 4 ints. He showed flashes of great athleticism and the ability to extend plays that make fans reminiscent of Cam Newton.
He is clearly the better athlete of the two, and in a league driven by a need for a mobile quarterback, he could easily be a good fit in the offense as well. He’s seen limited time this year and it’s lazy to say that he has underwhelmed.
Bringing in a guy to his first NFL experience cold, off the bench, and losing the game on 4th down is hardly a good tool for talent evaluation. Starting Walker would certainly give the Panthers run scheme a different variety that they haven’t had this season.
Regardless of who the coaching staff chooses to start, the Panthers are a better team and should win this game. While staring down the barrel of another Okung and Miller missed start, the offense will likely be running very similar to normal.
Expect a lot of quick drops, slants, and curls to help the QB out and get the ball into the hands of their plethora of playmakers. Don’t expect all short throws though, whoever starts is likely auditioning for the backup job next year.
They have been alternating backups as of this year and we likely won’t find out until the morning of the game. Matt Rhule came out and said he is still hopeful for Teddy to play so it’s possible none of this really matters. But with a guy that has a history of knee injuries. Hopefully, they play it safe and let one of the young guys take a shot.
Personally, I think we will see PJ Walker start come Sunday, but if he struggles there’s no doubt he is on a short leash and if he starts making mistakes, you’ll see Grier sooner, rather than later.