The Seattle Seahawks (1-1) are looking to keep the momentum going following their incredible overtime win against the Detroit Lions (1-1) last week, however, the team will need to quickly recalibrate their game plan when it comes to facing the Carolina Panthers (0-2) in Week 3.
The Panthers officially announced Bryce Young, their No. 1 overall pick from the 2023 NFL draft, will not be starting due to an ankle injury. Instead, veteran backup Andy Dalton will be suiting up, and Jake Luton will be elevated from the practice squad as this week’s QB2.
Young’s ankle sprain injury remains a bit of a mystery, as the quarterback didn’t show any symptoms of being hurt during the team’s 20-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. While Panthers head coach Frank Reich told reporters he didn’t know what play Young got hurt, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said during a September 21 press conference that he was injured in the first half, didn’t tell anyone, and played through it.
“There was no flinch by him at all. There was no mention of any injury throughout the game, which shows his toughness overall,” Brown said. “So that should never be in question — him or anybody else.”
However, fans and and analysts have expressed doubt on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Young is injured enough to not play, and believe the Panthers are using this narrative as an excuse to start Dalton. ESPN’s David Newton shared a video of Young walking around at practice on Friday with “no noticeable limp.”
The Athletic‘s Joseph Person surmised, “Some online conspiracy theorists have suggested the Panthers are using the ankle issue as a way to give Young a reset after just two games,” but he argues the decision may be smart. With a “cross-country flight during a short week to play in one of the NFL’s toughest environments, and it’s not as if the offense has been rolling under Young.”
NFL Insider Ian Rapoport also suggested the decision to sit the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner was calculated. “It seems the Panthers are being overly cautious here,” he said on NFL+. “I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you know what? ‘When you’re on the field we want you to be 100%… just watch for a little bit. It’s fine. Just watch Andy Dalton. That’s why he’s here’… And I think in the end, will help his development.”
Andy Dalton Has a History of Playing Well Against the Seahawks
Dalton’s career 3-1 record against the Seahawks could’ve played a major factor in the Panthers’ decision-making process to sit Young. SI’s Corbin K. Smith posted, “Dalton has a career 66 percent completion percentage against the #Seahawks and has averaged 276 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns in four starts against them.”
The Seahawks’ defense likely would’ve preferred to face Young. He “ranks 27th in the league in ESPN’s Total QBR (35.5) and 31st in passer rating (66.6),” Newton reported. “He has led only two touchdown drives — only one over the first 7½ quarters — and has three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble).”
Knowing whichever rookie quarterback the Panthers selected with their No. 1 overall pick would likely struggle getting acclimated to the NFL, they preemptively moved to sign a veteran like Dalton to a two-year, $10 million contract in March. Last season, Dalton went 6-8 last season with the Saints, completing 66.7% of his passes for 2,871 yards, 18 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
The Panthers are still committed to Young as their starter and Dalton, who Reich referred to as “one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the world,” understands his role. “My goal is to win,” the 35-year-old said. “Especially here, this is Bryce’s thing. I’m not here to make this a competition, make it some thing. I’m here to help the team.”
The Seahawk Defense Is a Bit Banged Up Going Into Week 3
The Seahawks defense will not be going into Sunday’s matchup at full strength. On Friday, Seattle ruled out cornerback Coby Bryant (toe), while right cornerback Tariq Woolen (chest) was listed as doubtful. Based on Pete Carroll’s comments during Friday’s presser, it seems Jarran Reed (groin), Quandre Diggs (hamstring) and safety Julian Love (hamstring) will be good to go.
While Jamal Adams (knee) was listed as “questionable” for the time this season, he’s not expected to play on Sunday. “He practiced really well,” said Carroll. “He’s as close as he can get to going. We will see how this winds up, but he will be in the middle of it next week for sure.”