Derek Anderson is very comfortable in this offense
For the second time this season Derek Anderson was asked to step in as starting quarterback against the Tampa Bay Bucs. He is now 2-0 and Panthers fans should feel confident if Anderson is asked to play past this week.
The back-up quarterback finished the day 25 of 40 for 277 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. The last stat is the key one as Anderson didn’t really have any negative plays. There was a couple of times he made poor throws that could have been interceptions but the Bucs were not able to capitalize on it. This certainly played a big role in the final score.
The one thing that really stood out from watching Anderson today is that he is decisive in this offense. He knows very early in the play where he is going with the ball and will make the throw. There doesn’t seem to be any second guessing or hesitation about what the right throw is on that play.
Offense needs to finish drives
It wasn’t all good for the Panthers offense against the Bucs as they continue to struggle finishing drives with touchdowns instead of field goals. The Panthers gained 100 more yards than the Bucs (390 to 287) and held the ball for nearly two thirds of the game (37:31 time of possession) but only scored 19 points.
The problem was that as the team got close to the end zone they weren’t executing as well as they were in the early parts of their drives. Carolina had a chance to put the game out of reach early in the second half when the defense recovered a fumble inside the 10-yard line. Jonathan Stewart ended up fumbling the ball fighting for extra yards and Carolina came away with no points.
It would be easy to blame Anderson for this but this has been an issue all season. Execution of plays or lack thereof is magnified as teams get closer to the end zone. There is less room for defenses to cover which makes it tougher on offenses. This has to be a point of emphasis ahead of Carolina’s game against Cleveland.
Secondary has greatly improved
Where was this secondary earlier in the season? Inserting Tre Boston and Bene Benwikere into the starting lineup has had a positive impact for this defense the past two weeks. This week against Tampa Bay they held Josh McCown to only 154 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. The lone touchdown came on the Bucs opening drive was the result of a good throw and not necessarily a breakdown in the secondary. The secondary really tightened up their defense after that play.
The original thought process when it was announced that Boston and Benwikere would be starters was that the coaching staff just wanted to get them playing time late in the season. It would help help them be better prepared for next season if they were able to get game experience their rookie season. However, the early results seem to be that they have been ready for some time as they have now had two straight strong games. This group should have Panthers fans not only excited for the future but the remainder of this season.