Panthers' QB Derek Anderson – Photo by: Getty Images
The Panthers’ decimated, Josh Norman-less secondary allowed the Falcons over 500 yards through the air last week, and things only proceeded to get bleaker for the reigning NFC champions.
As if a 1-3 start and injuries to top cornerback James Bradberry and running back Jonathan Stewart weren’t enough, Carolina could now be without its most valuable player Monday night against the Bucs.
Quarterback and 2015 MVP Cam Newton, hit high at the goal line last Sunday, is in concussion protocol and missed his second straight practice on Friday. Multiple reports say Newton is expected to be out, though if an independent neurologist clears him prior to the game, he could technically play. The Bucs will prepare as if he will, defensive coordinator Mike Smith said Friday.
“You always want to play their best, there’s no doubt about it,” Smith said. “We’re not discounting that Cam is going to play. We’re preparing as if he is and you have to do that as a defense.”
Regardless of who’s under center, though, the Bucs, a 1-3 team itself with plenty to lose, aren’t going to overlook the three-time division winners.
“Carolina’s a good football team. You don’t go from 15-1 and losing in the Super Bowl to being a bad team overnight,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday. “Every team has chances in the offseason, but you just look at the number of Pro Bowl players Carolina has on both sides of the ball and I don’t think they turned into a bad team overnight.”
That may be, and while they’re certainly not as strong with backup quarterback Derek Anderson at the helm, Bucs fans know all too well the threat the 6-foot-6 veteran signal-caller poses. In seven seasons as the Panthers backup Anderson has started just two games – and he won both against Tampa Bay in 2014.
The first time Anderson, a Pro Bowler in Cleveland in 2007, efficiently completed 24 of 34 for 230 yards and two TDs en route to a 20-14 Week 1 win in Raymond James. Newton was out with a rib injury. Then in Week 15, starting after Newton was involved in a bad car accident, Anderson replicated his first performance, throwing for 277 yards and a TD on 25 of 40 completions. The Panthers completed the sweep, beating the 2-12 Bucs 19-17 in Carolina.
Koetter, of course, was in Atlanta during this time – but he’s not unfamiliar with Anderson. While head coach of Arizona State (2001-2006), Koetter faced Oregon State’s Anderson three times, with the head coach having the 2-1 edge. Koetter won the last meeting, in 2004, in a 27-14 game that saw Anderson complete 29 of 53 passes for 384 yards, with one TD and two interceptions.
Bucs’ coaches know Anderson isn’t the same caliber athlete as Newton, a lesser threat in the running game especially. But the 12-year veteran can still operate an offense when called upon.
“When Cam’s in, he’s been their featured running back as well as their featured passer,” Koetter said Friday. “When Anderson’s in there they’re not going to run their quarterback runs, they’re not going to run the option. They’re going to be a more traditional NFL offense. Hey, Cam’s the MVP of the league. You take him out and it’s like to a lesser degree, us taking Doug Martin out.”
“Derek Anderson has won games in this league, so he’s a very efficient quarterback as well,” Smith said later in the afternoon. “[Anderson and Newton] have a different skill-set, in terms of what we would see from them schematically. But he’s a very good quarterback. When you’re a backup and have had to step up and play, he’s won games.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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I have said this before and will say it again, Derek Anderson is a better QB than Cam Newton.
He may not have a stronger arm but it is more accurate and he can make all the throws, especially from the pocket. Something Newton can’t do.
He’s also more adept at reading defenses, Given enough time, he will carve up a defense.
Even against Atlanta last week he brought the Panthers back to within one score twice.
Carolina is in the same place as the Bucs which is why their record mirrors ours.
They have been without their top RB since the second game, a OT and the defense is beginning to thin out due to injuries and the loss of Josh Norman who was familiar with what the defensive scheme was trying to do.
Their defensive line also hasn’t put enough pressure on the QB.
Both these teams have very similar problems.
Cam is an elite athlete not elite quarterback IMO. Big difference. For him to shine he needs the whole team around him playing at very high level. Defense,run game, etc. like last year. Now that the team is struggling he’s lot easier to defend. He’s not going to carry a team or step back and throw 50 times without run game and beat you like an elite qb could like say Brady. He’s not accurate at times and He can be confused still by defenses at times.
That being said I’d rather play Anderson. Just have to make sure don’t let them get run game going and get some pressure on him. Any qb even a back up can kill you if given time. This is the NFL and they all have loads of talent.
I concur fredster. He sure didn’t look like Superman when he got his bell rung against Atlanta. Looked more like Ali after Frazier tagged him with that left hook in the 60’s title bout.
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