Carolina Panthers: What benching may mean for Kyle Allen’s future

Kyle Allen #7 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Kyle Allen #7 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

On Monday afternoon, it was reported that the Carolina Panthers would bench Kyle Allen in favor of rookie Will Grier in Week 16.

Early on Monday afternoon, Carolina Panthers fans got the news many had been waiting so desperately for: Will Grier will finally get a shot as the team’s starting quarterback. This report comes on the heels of Kyle Allen’s seventh multi-turnover game in just 12 starts this season. With the Panthers’ season clearly down the drain, the move perhaps comes far too late. Nonetheless, Grier, a third-round pick in this year’s draft, will be given an opportunity to start his hometown team’s final two games of the 2019 season. With that being said, here’s what the switch could mean for Allen’s future.

In 12 starts this season, Allen posted a 5-7 record while enduring plenty of ups and downs.

When starting quarterback and former MVP Cam Newton went down for the year following Week Two, most fans assumed it was time to completely write off the 2019 season. Upon replacing the injured Newton, Allen stepped in and promptly won his first four starts of the year, leading the Panthers to a 4-2 record, and into the thick of the NFC playoff hunt.

Following the hot start, Allen cooled off dramatically over his final eight starts. He won just one of the eight games, and passed for just 10 scores while also throwing 15 interceptions. All total, Allen threw 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his 12 games this season. Add in his seven fumbles lost, and he committed more turnovers (22) than he did total touchdowns (19).

The most obvious indication from Allen’s benching is that the Panthers no longer believe he can be the guy going forward.

Perhaps the most evident takeaway from Allen’s benching is that the Panthers don’t believe he is the long-term answer at quarterback. Since taking over as interim head coach, Perry Fewell has consistently said that Allen gives Carolina its best chance to win football games. Ron Rivera, before his firing, said the same thing. Based on those comments, it appears as though the Panthers no longer believe that to be true.

During the team’s six-game losing streak, Allen has been a large part of why they have completely fallen flat. Over that span, he has committed 14 turnovers while accounting for just 10 touchdowns. In three of the six games, he has turned the ball over three or more times. To be a starting quarterback in the NFL, that simply can’t happen. Of the touchdowns he has put up during that time frame, many have come in garbage time, and were in reality nothing more than window dressing. Even before the current streak, Allen had been loose with the football, committing eight turnovers during his 5-1 start.

Kyle Allen of the Carolina Panthers
Kyle Allen #7 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Just as concerning as the turnovers is Allen’s inability to avoid pressure. Now, in his defense, Carolina’s pass protection has been awful this season, however, Allen hasn’t done himself any favors. He has been sacked 45 times this season, second only to Cardinals rookie Kyler Murray–who by the way, has taken almost 100 more snaps than Allen. To make matters even worse, Allen has lost more yards than any other quarterback on sacks this season, and it isn’t really close. On those 45 sacks, he has lost 393 yards. Murray is a distant second with 305 yards lost. That being said, Allen has been horrible at avoiding sacks and at getting rid of the football. Even when he does get rid of the ball, it seems as though it always results in him making bad decisions that end up in costly turnovers.

Because of all his issues with turnovers, pocket presence, and decision-making in general, the Panthers can’t trust Allen as the long-term answer. His arm talent is no doubt enticing, but he isn’t improving on the things he’s struggling with. In fact, it appears as though he getting worse in some areas. As a result, Allen won’t be Carolina’s next franchise quarterback, and it’s even possible that he won’t be on the roster come training camp in 2020.

Another major effect the benching could have is the impact it will have on his long-term future in the NFL.

Unlike benchings of players such as Jameis Winston, Josh Rosen, and even Mitchell Trubisky, Allen’s doesn’t guarantee any “second chances.” Of the three players named above, they each have been benched at some point–or even multiple points–in their careers, however, they’ve all been afforded another opportunity as a starting quarterback. This is in large part due to the high-draft selections with which they were taken. All three of those players were top-10 picks in their respective draft classes, and because of that, teams are willing to give them chance after chance.

Allen on the other hand went undrafted in 2018, and spent almost his entire rookie season on the Panthers’ practice squad. As a result, teams may not be as willing to give Allen a second chance as they would some of the other high-profile draft picks. Because of this, Allen may not ever get another opportunity to prove his worth as a starting quarterback in the NFL. In all likelihood, though, he probably will, even if it’s based solely on the potential he showed during his starts this season.

Regardless of what happens with Grier over the course of his first two NFL starts to close out the current season, it will have an impact on Allen’s future. If he plays well, it gives the Panthers much more confidence that he could be either the backup or starter of the future. Even if he plays poorly, the Panthers could continue to bank on his potential, and choose to move on from Allen this offseason. No matter what happens, Kyle Allen’s future in Carolina and in the league as a whole will become much more uncertain in the coming weeks.