Canales: QB Young 'doing fantastic' in Panthers' new offense

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

"He's doing fantastic with it," Canales said Monday after the first full day of voluntary workouts. "So, for us the formations are pretty vanilla so we can just teach the concept we want out of each route, the depth, the footwork we want.

"As I expect him to do, he's really mastered that part of it."

Young, the top pick of the 2023 draft, loves Canales' technique and having only one primary voice in his ear. He said the latter in particular has been "super important" after a disastrous rookie season in which he went between then-coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown as playcallers.

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

"Really, it's the consistency he has," Young said of Canales. "He has a very calming presence. He's someone you can have a conversation with, talk with. Good, bad or indifferent, you can tell there's an emphasis on teaching. At times, of course, we're passionate. With coaches there's a lot of yelling, a lot of emotion.

"His style is very [positive]. He wants to make sure he communicates. It's not just, 'Oh, that's a bad throw' or 'You missed.' It's constructive. If you miss something or do something wrong, it gives you something tangible to, 'Hey, let's get our base in order.' 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 qualified quarterbacks in Total QBR (33.4), 33rd in completion percentage (59.8%) and 28th in touchdown passes (11).

"They do a great job of having a clear reason for things," Young said. "Whether it's fundamental or scheme, you can tell there's a lot of thought, when we talk about things, how we talk about things."

Canales in particular was impressed by Young's accuracy that in his eyes has looked more like the quarterback who completed 65.7% of his passes his last two seasons at Alabama than it did last season.

"Deep balls, short, intermediate, he's a really accurate passer," Canales said. "One of the things I really love is I can really focus on the footwork, his base and the mechanics of where his eyes are at when I know the ball is hitting the receivers."

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

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

Young said having new players and "new juice" to the offense also will help him bounce back from last season.

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

They also traded up in the second round to draft Texas running back Jonathon Brooks, who is expected to be cleared medically from ACL surgery before the start of training camp.

"I'm super excited to have new pieces," Young said. "Now, it's on us to put the work in, to build the chemistry, to get the reps on the field and make it translate."