In his first year with the Carolina Panthers, Robby Anderson posted career highs in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,096), and catch percentage (69.9%). Prior to coming to Carolina, Anderson was labeled as just a deep ball threat. He proved to be much more than that in 2020 which is what helped earn him a two-year, $29 million contract extension this past offseason.
Since signing that contract, Anderson hasn't been the same player. Is it a coincidence? Well, for starters, Anderson is working with a new quarterback in Sam Darnold. The two spent time together in New York but haven't been able to get on the same page since rejoining forces. There have been some instances where Darnold doesn't look Anderson's way when he is wide open down the field and then there are times where the defense takes him out of the picture. But more often than not, Anderson has been open. Darnold just hasn't been getting him the ball and has become dependant on DJ Moore.
That said, it's not all Darnold's fault. Joe Brady and Anderson himself have to take up part of the blame. Some of the play calls that Brady dials up have Anderson to where he is maybe the third or fourth read in Darnold's progression. That shouldn't be the case. I've also noticed a lot of Robby's routes take a long time to develop, meaning that Brady is sending him downfield fairly often. To get Anderson going and to get Darnold back on track, throwing in some quick slants, crossers, and five-yard digs could be the solution.
Then there's also the drops. As I mentioned, Anderson has to own up for his lack of production as well. This past Sunday alone, he dropped three passes. In fact, he currently leads the league with six drops on the season. On Monday, Anderson spoke with the media to discuss his early-season struggles.
"Just not executing to my standard. I'm just not making the plays that I need to make to contribute to us winning. I've just got to get back to the basics and the fundamentals. It'll take care of itself. Don't overthink it. Take accountability and improve. First and foremost, that's the biggest thing to improve and that's taking accountability. In this game, and in life, adversity comes. Not everything is going to always go as planned. There's no such thing as perfect but that's what we strive for. I hold myself to a high regard and I felt like there was a few plays earlier in the game that I could've made. It's not like I don't care. It's not cool to me, it's not funny to me for me not to play to my standard and my expectations. So, I'm going to go harder this week to try and get it corrected."
Going harder and blocking out the distractions is exactly what Robby Anderson needs to do. Head coach Matt Rhule mentioned how distractions can start to pop up when a player goes through struggles trying to search for answers.
"I think Robby has to come out and have a great week of practice. He has to have a great week of meetings. He has to put aside all of the distractions of what happened last week or the week before and just come out and have a great week this week. I'm not saying Robby is distracted, all I'm saying is all he can do right now is put his head down and keep working. And I think sometimes when we have a little bit of adversity or we're not having the production that we want, we start trying to look for other things. Like, well maybe I'll do this, maybe I'll do that. What all of us need to do as a team right now is just go back to the simple things, the fundamentals. If we can get the football right, we're a good football team. We're beating ourselves right now and it's got to get corrected."
So far this season, Anderson has caught 15 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns with a catch percentage of 37.5%.
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