NFC South: Derek Anderson

Upon Further Review: Carolina Panthers

October, 7, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An examination of five hot issues from the Carolina Panthers' 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

Bench Newton: I was asked on Twitter if it was time to bench Cam Newton in favor of Derek Anderson after the franchise quarterback had three interceptions and a fumble against the Cardinals. The answer is no. Do that and you might as well trade the first pick of the 2011 draft. While Newton made more than his share of poor decisions, he started the game 5-for-5 for 70 yards and would have been 6-for-6 for 74 yards and a touchdown had Steve Smith not dropped a 4-yard touchdown pass. As badly as this turned out, Newton still gives the Panthers the best chance to win. And he had a streak of 10 straight games without multiple interceptions before this one.

[+] EnlargeCarolina's Cam Newton
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty ImagesCam Newton tracks down Antoine Cason after Cason picked up a Newton fumble.
Hardy har har on me: I predicted defensive end Greg Hardy would have another stellar game facing second-year tackle Bradley Sowell, a former college teammate making his first NFL start. Oops. Hardy didn't have a sack and made only three tackles, one more than quarterback Cam Newton trying to atone for mistakes. Carolina's defensive front that had six of the seven sacks against the Giants had 1½. End Charles Johnson's only tackle was his sack of Carson Palmer. Not what one would expect out of a unit that prior to the game was being called one of the best in the NFL.

Blood, sweat and tears: Criticize if you want Newton for throwing three interceptions and fumbling. But few if any quarterbacks in the league would have run down two defenders -- one after an interception and another after a fumble -- to make the tackle as he did. "He was wiping blood off his hand one time in the huddle," left tackle Jordan Gross said. "I don't have any problems with him. There's not a whole lot of quarterbacks that are going to chase down the guy he threw an interception to. Those plays shows you how bad he wants to win."

Miscommunication: In case you thought Travelle Wharton was at fault on the sack and safety that came one play after he replaced injured (knee) left guard Amini Silatolu, think again. That one was on All-Pro center Ryan Kalil, who admittedly had a communication issue on the play as the pressure came right up the middle. Kalil thought he was going to have help, but took credit for not getting that information to the help. Newton didn't stand a chance as end Calais Campbell came in almost untouched for the tackle. That made it 12-6 and ignited the fourth-quarter meltdown.

Ups and downs: As bad as this one looked in the final score, the Panthers did a few things right. They rushed for 95 yards against a team that had been allowing 75. Newton passed for 308 yards and the Panthers led in total offense 353 yards to 250. As Gross said, "I know we're good and talented because we can get 270 yards of offense in the first half. We're just not an efficient machine here if that makes sense. Too many ups and downs." Makes perfect sense. But more downs than ups, which tends to make for down seasons.

Observation deck: Panthers-Steelers

August, 29, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Starting quarterback Cam Newton wore some form of skull cap instead of his signature towel Thursday night as he played spectator in the Carolina Panthers' 25-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Well, it was terribly humid for a towel.

Otherwise, here are my thoughts on the preseason finale.
  • Two quarterbacks enough. Derek Anderson proved why he is the easy choice to back up Newton and why third-stringer Jimmy Clausen is expendable. Anderson completed his first five passes and finished an efficient 10-for-15 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He even had an ill-advised scramble for 9 yards.
  • Who are these guys? There may be more depth at wide receiver than expected. Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon made good cases to be the third receiver behind Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. Ginn caught five passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yarder in which he blistered the Pittsburgh secondary. Hixon caught four passes for 44 yards, including a nice 23-yard third-down grab on the sideline.
  • Secondary question. Carolina needs its front seven, most of whom barely played, to have a big season to cover up soft spots in the secondary. Most of those spots are in the middle, where reserve Steelers tight end David Paulson looked like a Pro Bowler in the first half.
  • Who needs camp? Travelle Wharton moved right into the lineup at left guard after only three practices and held his own. Not bad for the former and now current Panther who hadn't played in more than a year while recovering from a knee injury.
  • Playmaker: Corner Josh Norman needs to be on the field. He had his fourth interception of the preseason, returning this one 70 yards.
  • What it all means: Absolutely nothing. Except Carolina has its first winning preseason record (3-1) since 2006.
  • What's next: Roster cuts to 53 on Saturday, but don't expect a major surprise -- unless you consider Clausen a surprise. Time to get ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Seattle Seahawks, who will give Carolina a big test on both sides of the ball right away.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Whether Jimmy Clausen makes the final 53-man roster for the Carolina Panthers remains in doubt.

But Clausen has nothing to be ashamed of, at least when you compare him to the top four quarterbacks selected in the 2010 NFL draft -- Sam Bradford No. 1, Tim Tebow No. 25 (1st), Clausen No. 48 (2nd) and Colt McCoy No. 85 (3rd).

It's less than stellar.

Of those four selected in the first three rounds -- we could look deeper but it doesn't get any better -- only Bradford with the St. Louis Rams is a starter. Only Clausen remains with the team that drafted him.

The combined record of these four is a dreadful 30-56-1. Tebow, 9-7 including a playoff win with Denver, is the only one with a winning record, and he's in danger of not making the cut at New England. Bradford is 15-26-1.

Again, less than stellar.

But let's focus on Clausen. Carolina coach Ron Rivera made it clear that veteran Derek Anderson will be Cam Newton's backup for the third straight season. Rivera was vague when asked if Clausen would remain the third quarterback again, saying it will come down to numbers.

The numbers put Clausen at risk because of injuries on the offensive line and a group of unproven players behind the top two receivers which is likely to force the Panthers to keep more numbers there.

Then there's new general manager Dave Gettleman. He came from a New York Giants organization that had a history of keeping only two quarterbacks.

None of this bodes well for a third-string quarterback with a 1-9 record as a starter.

"All I can ask for is an opportunity," said Clausen, who has completed 9 of 17 pass attempts for 93 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason. "When my name gets called to go out there, I have to be ready to execute. That's the biggest thing is to execute, make good decisions and move the chains."

Clausen likely will get that chance in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With starter Cam Newton unlikely to play more than one or two series -- if at all based on last year's finale in which he didn't dress -- Clausen and Anderson will carry the bulk of the load.

Unfortunately for Clausen, that will come with backups and backups to backups. So it's doubtful anything he does will make a huge difference regarding whether Carolina keeps him or not.

"That's a question for the GM and the head coach," Clausen said. "That's not for me to decide. All I'm worried about is practicing and trying to help the team get better, and just play my role on the team."

Whether Clausen will be on the team remains to be seen.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you were looking for a battle for the job to hold quarterback Cam Newton's clipboard, sorry.

There isn't one.

Derek Anderson will begin his third season as the backup for the Carolina Panthers. There really never was a serious competition between the 2007 Pro Bowl selection at Cleveland and Jimmy Clausen.

Anderson is a veteran who has a stabilizing effect on Newton. He started 43 games from 2006 to 2010 between Cleveland and Arizona, so if Newton were to go down, he has experience to step in and lead.
In three preseason games, Anderson has completed 57.7 percent of his passes, close to what the Panthers are looking for. Newton has struggled at 47.8 percent.

"Our backup quarterback situation has really shaped itself out to what it was last year," coach Ron Rivera said. "As we're going forward, we've got a good crop of quarterbacks and we feel very strong about those guys."

The only remaining question is will the team keep three quarterbacks or two? Stay tuned on that one.

What to watch: Panthers-Ravens

August, 22, 2013
Three things to watch as the Carolina Panthers play the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN:

Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen. Newton will get his most extensive playing time of the preseason, and the Panthers hope he and the offense can get in a rhythm. Newton has led only one touchdown drive this preseason. Clausen is expected to play with the second team. That’s not a sign that Clausen has a chance to beat out Derek Anderson for the backup job. It’s more of a sign that the Panthers want to take a good look at Clausen before deciding if they want to carry two or three quarterbacks on the roster.

The receivers. Armanti Edwards, Domenik Hixon and Joe Adams aren’t expected to play due to injuries. That means more playing time for Ted Ginn Jr. and David Gettis, who are having strong preseasons and have a chance to be among the top backups at receiver.

Garry Williams. He’s been getting the first-team work at right guard since the team released veteran Geoff Hangartner. Williams needs a strong showing because it still is possible the team could bring in a veteran as other teams trim their rosters.

Around the NFC South

August, 21, 2013
Time for a run through the top headlines from around the division:


Tight end Tony Gonzalez re-joined the Falcons after missing most of training camp. Gonzalez, who had been spending time with his family in California, said he had all the practice installations sent to his iPad and is up to speed on the playbook. Gonzalez is expected to get extensive playing time in this week’s preseason game


Jonathan Jones reports that quarterback Jimmy Clausen might work with the second team offense during Thursday night’s preseason game. I think veteran Derek Anderson still is set as the top backup to Cam Newton, but the Panthers might want to give Clausen an extended look.


Receiver Marques Colston has practiced the last two days. But Colston said he has not fully recovered from a foot injury. I don’t expect to see much of Colston in the remaining two preseason games. The priority is to have Colston ready for the regular season. He already knows the offense well and the Saints need to look at some of their young receivers.


The Bucs are expecting to give their starters extended playing time in Saturday’s preseason game at Miami. We haven’t seen a lot of the starters in the first two preseason games. The preseason doesn’t mean much. But, still, it would be comforting for fans to see quarterback Josh Freeman and the first offense at least get into some sort of rhythm.

NFC South backup QB situations

July, 22, 2013
With NFC South teams heading to training camp later this week, let’s take a look at the backup quarterback situations around the division.

Aside from Carolina, where Derek Anderson seems set as Cam Newton’s backup, nothing else is definite.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After some awkward moments early in the offseason, coach Greg Schiano finally made it clear that Josh Freeman is the team’s starter. But the competition for the backup job could be one of the most intriguing things in training camp. Rookie Mike Glennon will compete with veteran Dan Orlovsky for the backup job. If Glennon can beat out Orlovsky, he could be looking at playing time if Freeman gets off to a bad start.

Atlanta Falcons. The team is high on Dominique Davis, who looked great in the preseason last year. But the Falcons traditionally have carried a veteran as Matt Ryan’s backup. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Falcons bring in a veteran from elsewhere later in the preseason.

New Orleans Saints. Chase Daniel is gone and the Saints have veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace and rookie Ryan Griffin on the roster behind Drew Brees. It’s likely the Saints will keep only one of the veterans and they could keep Griffin around as a developmental project.

Carolina Panthers. Anderson probably is the division’s best backup. Jimmy Clausen, who started in 2010, is a distant third on the depth chart as he heads into the final year of his contract.

Around the NFC South

July, 10, 2013
Time for a look at some items of interest from around the division:


D. Orlando Ledbetter continues his list of the top 25 Falcons with cornerback Robert McClain at No. 16. McClain was a pleasant surprise and received a lot of playing time last season. But rookies Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford have a chance to cut into McClain’s playing time in 2013.


Carolina Huddle has its guide to Panthers' training camp. There's some good insight here about which players regularly sign autographs, and a tip on how to tell which field the Panthers will be using for any given practice.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS continues its series on 10 impressive wins in the Sean Payton era by doubling up and going with the first two games of the 2006 season. The Saints won on the road at Cleveland and Green Bay. That sent a signal that maybe Drew Brees’ shoulder wasn’t damaged nearly as bad as some teams thought, and it also was the start of the best era in franchise history.


A lot of people have been critical of the Bucs for putting basically all of their pass-rush eggs into Da’Quan Bowers’ basket. But Sander Philipse writes that might not be a bad thing, and points to one spectacular flash from Bowers last season. The bottom line here is that Tampa Bay’s coaching staff and front office must have a strong conviction that Bowers is ready for a breakout year. If that wasn’t the case, the Bucs would not have let Michael Bennett depart via free agency.

Around the NFC South

July, 9, 2013
Time for a run through the top headlines from around the division:


D. Orlando Ledbetter continues his list of the top 25 Falcons with defensive end Kroy Biermann at No. 17. The Falcons have invested a lot of recent draft picks in defensive ends and they want to get them on the field. That could lead to Biermann getting time in a hybrid role because he can play both end and linebacker.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter hinted that running back Steven Jackson probably won’t get a lot of carries in the preseason games. That makes a lot of sense because the Falcons need the veteran healthy and ready for the regular season. Backup Jacquizz Rodgers still is proving himself and could benefit from additional carries in the preseason.


Max Henson has an overview of the situation at quarterback. Cam Newton is set as the starter with Derek Anderson as the top backup. The most intriguing thing here could be the competition for the No. 3 spot. Jimmy Clausen was the starter in 2010, but hasn’t appeared in a game since. He’ll be competing with undrafted rookie Colby Cameron for the final roster spot.


A former NFL player is suing the Washington Redskins and former assistant coach Gregg Williams, saying they used a bounty program that resulted in his career-ending injury. Williams later came to the Saints and the NFL has said he ran a three-year bounty program that resulted in the suspension of Williams and others last year. The Saints’ bounty scandal appears to be over, but this news makes you wonder if the team could face some legal issues in the future.


Running back Doug Martin sounded unimpressed after meeting NBA legend LeBron James.
Matt McGloin is going to this weekend’s Carolina Panthers minicamp on a tryout basis. He is a long shot to even get a roster spot.

But I’m not going to write off McGloin because way too many people have done that in the past and ended up being very wrong.

If you don’t know McGloin’s story, it’s worth running through now. Since high school, people have been telling McGloin he doesn’t have the necessary arm strength or size.

I don’t know McGloin, but I’ve followed his career closely since his days at West Scranton (Pa.) High because that’s about 15 miles from where I grew up. My nephew was a class behind McGloin in high school.

When McGloin went to Penn State University as a walk-on, I, like a lot of people, thought that would be the last we’d ever hear of him. Fact is, he is short and the arm strength isn’t great.

But there’s something special about McGloin. Call it intangibles, call it moxie or whatever you want. The guy somehow worked his way into the starting quarterback job at Penn State, something never before accomplished by a walk-on at that school.

McGloin was pretty ordinary at first. But when things started crumbling at Penn State due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, McGloin became a rock. As other highly-touted players were transferring away and Penn State was going through its first coaching change in about 50 years, McGloin held the program together. He turned in a record-setting senior year as Penn State recorded a very respectable season.

With the Panthers, McGloin’s walking into a situation where Cam Newton is the unquestioned starter. The Panthers also have veteran backups in Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen. They also have Colby Cameron.

The odds are long. But the Panthers have salary-cap issues and Anderson and Clausen are making decent money. If McGloin can show a little of the heart he showed at Penn State, maybe the Panthers will decide to keep him around and give him a shot to stick as the third quarterback or on the practice squad. His chances aren't great, but McGloin has overcome longer odds in the past.

Ranking the needs: Quarterbacks

April, 22, 2013
We continue our pre-draft rankings of position-group needs with the quarterbacks.

Remember, the earlier the ranking, the greater the need.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman is entering a “prove-it" season. What if he starts off poorly? I can’t see the Bucs turning things over to Dan Orlovsky for the long term. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Bucs draft a quarterback any time after the first round.

Atlanta Falcons: They’re set with Matt Ryan as the starter and they’re high on the potential of Dominique Davis. But I’m not sure Davis is ready to be the No. 2 guy. The Falcons could try to draft a backup, but I think it’s more likely they’ll sign a veteran after the draft.

Carolina Panthers: They appear to be in good shape with Cam Newton as the starter and Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen behind him. But I’m curious as to why I repeatedly have been hearing the Panthers have done an inordinate amount of homework on Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees will have a new backup with Chase Daniel gone. It looks like veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace will compete for that job. But it might not be a bad idea for the Saints to take a shot on a project later in the draft. McCown and Wallace are only short-term solutions and Brees can’t play forever.
Since late February, I’ve been working on a side project. I’ve been spending a lot of time out at the Fired Football Coaches Association offices in Tampa.

For those that don’t know what the FFCA is, it’s the headquarters of former Tampa Bay and Oakland coach Jon Gruden and his television show, Gruden’s QB Camp. My assignment was to work with Gruden to help turn his scouting reports on each prospect coming through into the written word.

These Insider scouting reports have started to run. Here’s Gruden’s scouting report Insider on West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and here’s his take Insider on Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. Over the coming days, we’ll have a bunch more on all the prospects that came through the camp, so watch our main NFL page for them.

I’d keep a close eye on some of the quarterbacks that are viewed as mid-round picks because Atlanta and Tampa Bay are in the market for backups, New Orleans could be in the market for a project as a third quarterback and I’ve been hearing some rumblings that even though Carolina has Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen as backups to Cam Newton, the Panthers have been doing some homework on some of the later-round quarterback prospects.

In addition to the nine quarterbacks that came through, Gruden also brought in Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.

When the scouting report on Lattimore runs, I’ll have an accompanying blog post because I think there’s one NFC South team where he could be a very logical fit.
There’s a reason why the Carolina Panthers have been the NFC South’s quietest team so far in free agency -- and I don’t expect them to suddenly change course and start bringing in a bunch of players.

Aside from signing cornerback Drayton Florence and re-signing backup quarterback Derek Anderson to contracts for the veteran minimum benefit (a loophole that allows veteran players to cost less against the salary cap than what they really earn), the Panthers have done nothing in free agency.

That’s because the Panthers are still digging out of a salary-cap mess. As it stands right now, they’re less than $3 million under this year’s salary cap. In theory, the Panthers could sign some players and structure the deals to make them fit under this year’s salary cap.

But this nightmare isn’t just about this year. The Panthers aren’t in a position where they can afford to sign big-name free agents to long-term contacts. That’s because they already are facing a cap mess for next year and potentially for 2015.

Carolina already has $127 million committed toward next year’s salary cap and that obviously doesn’t include the players they draft this year. This year’s draft class will put the Panthers at well over $130 million in cap space next year and the cap isn’t expected to rise much from this year’s $130 million figure.

Then, there’s 2015. The Panthers already have $107 million committed toward the 2015 cap and that’s for only 19 players. The players they draft in 2014 and 2015 are going to take up a good chunk of cap space. Oh, by the way, Carolina’s probably going to sign quarterback Cam Newton to a huge contract extension before the 2015 season.

Long story short: It’s going to be several more years before Carolina has the salary-cap room to be a player in free agency.

Panthers make a little noise

March, 13, 2013
The Carolina Panthers, who began free agency quietly, finally are making some noise.

They’ve signed veteran cornerback Drayton Florence and re-signed backup quarterback Derek Anderson.

Although Florence is 32 and started only three games with Detroit last season, he at least gives the Panthers some instant experience at cornerback. The Panthers recently released veteran Chris Gamble. Florence likely will compete with youngsters Josh Norman and Josh Thomas for the No. 2 and 3 cornerback spots. But it still is likely the Panthers will look for a true No. 1 cornerback in the draft or later in free agency.

In re-signing Anderson to a one-year deal, the Panthers kept continuity in their quarterback situation. Cam Newton clearly is the franchise quarterback, but Anderson has been his backup the past two seasons. Anderson’s return probably means Jimmy Clausen is headed for his third straight year as the No. 3 quarterback after starting much of his rookie year.

Reviewing NFC South free agents

March, 7, 2013
We’ve shown you the lists of potential NFC South free agents before. But let’s do it again because there have been some minor moves and the free-agency period is getting ready to start Tuesday.

Here’s the list of potential free agents for all four NFC South teams:

Atlanta Falcons. Tony Gonzalez, Brent Grimes, Sam Baker, William Moore, Will Svitek, Mike Cox, Todd McClure, Luke McCown, Christopher Owens, Mike Peterson, Garrett Reynolds, Lawrence Sidbury and Vance Walker all can become unrestricted free agents. Michael Palmer can become a restricted free agent.

Carolina Panthers. The potential unrestricted free agents are Derek Anderson, Antwan Applewhite, Gary Barnidge, Dwan Edwards, Ben Hartsock, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Louis Murphy and Mike Pollak. Richie Brockel can become an exclusive-rights free agent. Andre Neblett, Nate Ness and Jason Phillips are scheduled to become restricted free agents.

New Orleans Saints. Jermon Bushrod, Jonathan Casillas, Chase Daniel, Sedrick Ellis, Devery Henderson, Ramon Humber, Elbert Mack, Turk McBride, Will Robinson, Courtney Roby and Scott Shanle can become unrestricted free agents. Brian De La Puente, Justin Drescher, Junior Galette and Chris Ivory are scheduled to become restricted free agents. Eric Olsen and Michael Higgins can become exclusive-rights free agents.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ronde Barber, Dallas Clark, Michael Bennett, E.J. Biggers, Andrew Economos, Roy Miller, Roscoe Parrish, Sammie Stroughter and Jeremy Trueblood can become unrestricted free agents. LeGarrette Blount, Jacob Cutrera, Corvey Irvin and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim are scheduled to become restricted free agents.