Thursday night’s primetime game will see the 2-0 Carolina Panthers take on the 1-1 Houston Texans. The Panthers are one of the league’s most surprising storylines through two weeks of the new season and will enter Week 3 owning the No. 1 defense in DVOA. On the offensive side of the ball, starting quarterback Sam Darnold is off to a great start in his new colors.
If there’s one player that’s off to a surprisingly slow start, it’s electric wide receiver Robby Anderson. Anderson had a personal-best campaign in 2020, his first in Carolina, after setting career-highs in catches (96) and receiving yards (1,096).
Anderson's production was expected to carry over into 2021, especially after reuniting with Darnold, who spent two years throwing to the former Temple standout in New York. The pair have begun their new journey with more of a whimper than a bang. Anderson has seen just nine targets through two games and has recorded a disappointing four receptions for 95 yards. One of those catches happened to be this 57-yard touchdown, which offensive coordinator Joe Brady would love to see more of going forward.
The Panthers need to get Anderson more involved in the offense sooner rather than later, and Thursday night represents a fantastic opportunity to do just that. The matchup offers terrific upside. Anderson will face a Texans defense that can’t stop a nosebleed right now. Houston has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for 545 yards and has given up several passing plays of 20 or more yards. This plays extremely well into the hands of Anderson, who is a big play waiting to happen.
Anderson’s target share currently equals that of second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr., who has also been on the receiving end of nine of Darnold’s passing attempts. Marshall is an exciting player and prospect, but I expect this to change as early as Thursday night with Anderson establishing himself as the clear-cut No. 3 option in Carolina’s offense (behind D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey).
To make matters worse for Houston, the Texans will field a depleted secondary on Thursday. Starting cornerback Terrence Mitchell has already been ruled out for the game and starting safety Justin Reid is trending on the wrong side of the questionable label.
The Panthers need to test a young and inexperienced Texans defense early and often and there’s no better way to do that than by allowing Anderson to do what he does best: taking the top off the defense. Look out for a big performance by Anderson on Thursday night.
- Feb 01, 2023
- Feb 01, 2023