Canales: QB Young is ‘doing a great job’ in new Panthers offense

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New Carolina Panthers coach Dave Canales likes the way quarterback Bryce Young has picked up an offense that helped Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson and Geno Smith have career seasons.

“He’s doing a great job,” Canales said Monday after his first full day of voluntary workouts. “So, for us, the formations are pretty nice, so we can just teach the concept that we want from each route, the depth, the footwork that we want.

“And as I expect him to do, he’s really mastered that part of it.”

Young, the top prospect in the 2023 draft, likes Canales’ style and has only one primary vote in his ear. The latter in particular, he said, was “very important” after a disastrous rookie season in which he moved between then-coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown as play-callers.

That was difficult because, according to multiple sources close to the situation, the coaches had different philosophies.

“Really, that’s the consistency he has,” Young said of Canales. “He has a very calming presence. He’s someone you can have a conversation with and talk to. Whether he’s good, bad or indifferent, you can tell there’s an emphasis on teaching. Sometimes, of course, we get excited. With coaches there’s a lot of yelling, a lot of Passion.

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“His style too [positive]. He wants to make sure he communicates. It’s not just about, “Oh, that’s a bad throw,” or, “I missed.” It’s constructive. If you miss something or do something wrong, it gives you something tangible, “Hey, let’s organize our base.” It’s something you can think about and apply. “It’s been really good for me.”

Young needed a positive change after a rookie season in which he ranked 29th out of 30 qualifying quarterbacks in total QBR (33.4), 33rd in completion percentage (59.8%) and 28th in touchdown passes (11).

“They do a great job of finding a clear reason for things,” Young said. “Whether it’s basic or planned, you can tell there’s a lot of thought involved, when we talk about things, and how we talk about things.”

Canales was particularly impressed with the accuracy of Young, who in his eyes looked more like a quarterback who completed 65.7% of his passes in his final two seasons at Alabama than he did last season.

“Deep balls, short balls, medium balls, he’s a really accurate passer,” Canales said. “One of the things I really like is I can really focus on the footwork, his base, the mechanics of where his eyes are when I know the ball is hitting the receivers.”

Canales hopes that the result will be similar to what he achieved with Mayfield in Tampa Bay last season and with Wilson and Smith in Seattle.

Mayfield had career-highs of 4,044 passing yards and 28 touchdown passes with Canales as his offensive coordinator. Wilson had career-highs of 4,212 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2020 with Canales as passing game coordinator. Smith had career-highs of 4,282 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2022 with Canales as quarterbacks coach.

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Young said having new players and “new juice” in the attack will also help it bounce back from last season.

The Panthers traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for wide receiver Diontae Johnson, traded the 32nd pick of the NFL draft to select South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette, selected Texans’ Ja’Tavion Sanders with the top pick of the fourth round, and spent $150 million Dollars in free agency on guards Robert Hunt and Damian Lewis.

They also traded up in the second round to draft Texans linebacker Jonathan Brooks, who is expected to be medically cleared for ACL surgery before the start of training camp.

“I’m very excited to have new pieces,” Young said. “Now, it’s on us to get to work, build chemistry, get reps on the field and make it translate.”

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