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Panthers HC Dave Canales: Not planning to 'fix' QB Bryce Young, just need him to 'do his part' in offense

It only takes one look at the Panthers' 2023 record to determine that something needs to change for Carolina this upcoming year, namely with the last-place offense led by quarterback Bryce Young.

But when new head coach Dave Canales was asked on Tuesday at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine what his plan was to "fix" Young in 2024, Canales said he didn't feel the sophomore signal-caller's play was necessarily broken.

"No plan to fix Bryce Young," Canales said of the 2023 No. 1 overall pick. "I think for me, it's about building an offense that we can be proud of, something that is tough, something that is smart, that takes care of the football, number one. We've got to create more explosives, and then of course, we have to minimize damage with exotic pressures and things like that.

"So I think just elevating the whole group and really asking Bryce to just do his part."

Young had more than his fair share of struggles during the 2-15 campaign, finishing with a 59.8 completion rate, 2,877 passing yards and just 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He also took the second-most sacks in the league (62) behind a struggling offensive line.

The 22-year-old had some promising moments, including a win over the Houston Texans in Week 8, and a near-comeback against the Packers on Christmas Eve which saw him throw for 312 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions. But it was an overall frustrating season for the Alabama product, with few positive results to show for his efforts.

Having been tasked with righting the ship in Carolina, Canales said he needs to figure out the balance of reinforcing the good things he knows Young can do while also resolving the problems that cropped up. There's also the added work of learning an entirely new offense. But even this early in the offseason, Canales indicated that he already has a specific plan and steps to see visible improvement, though he obviously kept the details under wraps.

"I really respect Bryce and the road that has taken him to here, and I want to be able to present something to him that's tangible, that's specific and says 'Hey, here's some things that we can really dive into and improve on, and here's things that you're doing great,'" Canales said. "So we'll have a great plan when he comes back to us in a couple weeks."

This isn't the first time Canales has been tasked with developing a quarterback who faced significant hardship in their career before that point. As the quarterbacks coach in Seattle, Canales helped engineer Geno Smith's 2022 resurgence, and then last season as the Buccaneers' offensive coordinator, he was instrumental in Baker Mayfield's bounce-back season.

Those two quarterbacks earned their first career Pro Bowl berths and led their team to the playoffs under Canales' tutelage, the kind of outcomes the Panthers will be hoping can be replicated with their young franchise quarterback.

"We're not talking about a guy that there's a big fix for, really," Canales said. "You're looking at an accurate player, a really smart player, he's aware of what's happening, and we've got to build the whole thing around him, the whole offense around him, of something we can really say, 'This is our identity and our core.'"

Whether Canales can find that QB magic with Young will be key in this Panthers team's efforts to change their fortunes.

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