If Cam Newton isn’t ready to go against the Browns, the coaching staff should feel confident turning to Derek Anderson for his third start this season. In his first two starts, Anderson has played excellent and done exactly what is needed from a back-up quarterback, play well enough to win the game but don’t make any mistakes to lose it.
In his two starts this year, Anderson is 49 for 74 (66.2 completion percentage) for 507 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. These are impressive numbers for a quarterback who prior to this year threw a total of four passes in the past three seasons. If the Panthers do have to turn to Anderson, I am sure he will be more than ready going up against his former team.
This guy continues to out-do himself every week and could be a diamond in the rough for the Carolina Panthers. The offensive tackle has bounced around the league since 2012 when he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos. He has been on five teams since then (Bucs, Chargers, Vikings, Rams and now Panthers) and made his NFL debut last year for the Chargers, playing four snaps in Week 7.
However the past three weeks is the first time he has gotten the chance to start and he has taken the opportunity and run with it. Pro Football Focus has given him ratings of 3.5 against the Saints and 3.6 against the Bucs. He was actually the fifth-highest rated offensive tackle in the entire NFL in Week 15. What looked like a quick fix at the right tackle position three weeks ago now has the look of being the long-term answer for the Panthers.
The Panthers played really well for the most part against the Tampa Bay Bucs. The red zone offense was questionable but I wrote about that in detail yesterday, which can be read here. The other area this team struggled in last week was the run defense.
The Panthers run defense had been getting better as of late with five straight games of holding opponents under 100 rushing yards. Well, the Bucs broke that streak by running for 151 yards and averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Doug Martin did the bulk of the damage with 96 rushing yards.
It wasn’t necessarily surprising that they ran so well but where they ran so well beating the Panthers right up the middle. It started early for the Bucs when Martin was able to take a carry 69 yards.The picture below shows exactly why he was able to break off such a long run thanks to the huge running lane by his offensive line.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the only time the Panthers defensive tackles and linebackers were cleared out because later in the game, Martin was able to run for 15 yards with the help of great blocking in the middle of the field once again.
The Panthers are going to have to fix this because the Browns have some good, young running backs in Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell not to mention the mobile quarterback Johnny Manziel. If the Browns are able to get the run game going it could be another close game for Carolina.