Hello all! Today I am going to take a look at the 2012 quarterback roster. I know, Cam Newton isn't losing his job anytime soon. However, the Panthers have an interesting group of backup quarterbacks, which raises the question: What will the Carolina Panthers do if Cam Newton goes down with an injury?
There are only 3 quarterbacks on the Carolina Panthers' roster at this time, all of which have been with the team at least one year. However, neither Jimmy Clausen nor Derek Anderson are remotely threatening running with the football. Therefore, the whole "Option" dimension is greatly diminished, along with the packages that include our two running-backs and Cam Newton.
For a look at the 2012 roster and more scenarios, read on!
Cam Newton. Cam Newton is the franchise quarterback. He broke more records in one season than most quarterbacks will break in their entire career, most notably breaking rookie records for passing yards, rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns, and most passing yards in a debut, along with holding the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
Cam Newton is (arguably) the most dynamic player the Carolina Panthers have ever had on their roster. He possesses the ability to throw the ball deep and accurately, along with the ability to make plays with his feet. Some say he possesses the "It" factor that winning quarterbacks possess. However, will all of the individual accolades he acquired, he could not bring the Panthers more than 6 wins, with many close and heartbreaking losses throughout the season. However, many experts believe the Panthers could have been and will be much more with an improved defense and special teams. Cam Newton's job is not in jeopardy. He is not just a great quarterback, he is also the nationally recognizable figure that few teams possess. Cam Newton represents hope for the Panthers, something this organization truly needed.
Derek Anderson. This in my mind was one of the more important signings by the Carolina Panthers this offseason. Derek Anderson is what many would call a "scheme quarterback". He had played under Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland. In the one year that Derek Anderson played under Chudzinski, Derek Anderson made the Pro Bowl. He threw for 3787 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2007, surrounded by players like Braylon Edwards and Jamal Lewis. Anderson is exactly what the Carolina Panthers want in a backup. He is a veteran of this league with some talent left in him as well. He showed flashes of the quarterback he can be during the 2011 preseason, making quite a few good throws and touchdowns. Though Anderson lacks the mobility of Cam Newton, he is a big armed quarterback who can make all the throws in the system. While the option dynamic of the Panthers' offense would be gone with Anderson, the Panthers could still run roughly the same plays they would have run with Cam Newton, as Anderson's throwing ability is comparable (not the same, obviously). He has proven to be a good mentor, and I am glad to have him on the team.
The Other Guy:
Jimmy Clausen. Clausen's career has been rocky, to say the least. Some would say he was thrown to the wolves in his rookie season, a year where the Panthers' offense was plagued by injuries. Clausen threw 3 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, being sacked 33 times. He appeared in 13 games, and recorded 10 starts. He could only muster up one win during that spread. The Panthers seemed to have thrown a hail mary by drafting Clausen in 2010 in the second round. Clausen was poised to return as the starter, until Cam Newton, that is. The Panthers called the situation a "quarterback battle" but I think we all knew Cam was going to end up being the starter.
owever, Clausen didn't play horribly in the preseason of 2011, starting the first game and throwing some pretty impressive passes. However, Cam Newton won the starting spot, and the rest is history. Clausen wouldn't see the field again the entire season, and his situation isn't looking much better in 2012, as the more experienced and fitting backup to Cam Newton is Derek Anderson.
Now, none of us want this to happen, and some of us won't even consider it, but the bottom line is that any player can get injured, on any play in pro football. Cam Newton has been good about not taking hits when possible, but we have seen him take some big hits. If Cam Newton were to go down, Derek Anderson would take over as the starter until Cam returns, and this poses a problem. Derek Anderson isn't much of a threat to run with the ball. His career high in rushing in a season was 2007, with a whopping 70 yards on 32 attempts. Most teams won't be afraid of an option play with Derek Anderson. While the passing game wouldn't be affected all that much (minus the deep plays that Chudzinski has made his mark with) the rushing game would lose a dimension. The Panthers will still have Williams and Stewart to take the load, along with Mike Tolbert for goal-line and short yardage, however the option plays and designed quarterback runs will no longer be available, except for the occasional quarterback sneak.
But have no fear, Panther fans, there might be an answer! We have seen many times Deangelo Williams lining up in a Wildcat formation, handing the ball to Jonathan Stewart or keeping it in another form of an option play. Chudzinski would probably find a way to get Tolbert into the mix as well.
And finally, this is a simple speculation on my part, but Armanti Edwards could potentially find a role in this way. While lining him up at quarterback seems to be unnecessary with Cam Newton at quarterback, Edwards has gotten a few snaps in a package called the "Mountaineer Package". This would allow the Panthers to change up the pace a little bit, and use some plays that Newton might have run. However, Edwards will have to find a way to stay on the roster in order for this to be possible, which is a scenario that seems unlikely with the drafting of Joe Adams and the many other undrafted free agent wideouts on the roster at this point. He has got his work cut out for him, to say the least.
Projected Depth Chart:
1. Cam Newton
2. Derek Anderson
3. Jimmy Clausen (won't be active on most Sundays)
Stay tuned for my write-up on the Wide Receiver position, coming soon...