The Carolina Panthers believe Bryce Young, the brand new quarterback they drafted first overall last week, is their quarterback of the future. But that future might not start right away.
Panthers head coach Frank Reich told The Athletic on Sunday that Young won't take first-team reps immediately when the team begins to practice together. Instead, veteran QB Andy Dalton, Young's backup, will take first-team reps while Young learns the offense.
“He’ll have to earn it. Obviously, that’s the way it should be. We’ll know when the right time is,” Reich said. “He’s got enough going on right now. I just want him to come in and learn the offense and not have to worry about stepping into the limelight. Just come in, learn the offense, get to know these guys. When we step out onto the field the first time, he’ll be in that No. 2 spot.”
The Panthers are being very careful with Young. Reich and the coaching staff don't want to put too much on him too fast. They want to give him a chance to learn and feel comfortable. The Panthers, who have had five straight losing seasons with (at least) five different quarterbacks, and Reich, who has also coached five different quarterbacks in five years, know how vital a strong, young quarterback can be if he's coached and managed properly. They do not want to screw this up.
Reich already seems to be bonding with the 21-year-old Young. They spent some quality coach-QB time together on Friday, near the end of Young's daylong introduction to the team and the city.
“Before he left at the end of the day, (Young) kind of came in,” Reich said via USA Today. “All the work was done. All the fanfare was over. He was just in Panthers gear. Just kind of relaxed and kicked back in my office for a half-hour, just talking a little football. Talking a little bit about the vision for the offense, a vision for this team. … It was pretty cool.”
It's possible that casual conversation could mark the beginning of a beautiful and fruitful partnership between Reich and Young. Panthers fans the world over are crossing their fingers, hoping that ends up being true.