The new era of the NY Jets began with a bang when the franchise officially moved on from former franchise quarterback Sam Darnold. The 2018 third overall pick will attempt to resurrect his career with a new organization — the Carolina Panthers.
While this transaction will impact the Jets in a number of ways, there is one interesting angle that has been undercovered. The now former Jets tandem that will be leading the Panthers.
Darnold joins former New York receiver Robby Anderson as staples of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady’s offense. This has the potential to create a nightmare scenario for fans of the Jets.
Imagine how much it would sting to see this duo flourish and reach star status upon their departure from Gang Green.
Will former NY Jets, Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson, shine in Carolina?
While this may seem impossible considering both players struggle in New York, it appears as though Anderson has already rehabbed his career reputation.
The speedy wide receiver was known as a big-play threat during his four seasons in New York. During that stint, he averaged 52 receptions and 765 receiving yards per season.
His first season in Carolina saw the undrafted Temple star establish himself as a true No. 1 option. Anderson posted a career-high 95 receptions and 1,096 receiving yards. This production spike also came with a good-not-great Teddy Bridgewater as the team’s primary passer.
His stock could certainly increase further with a more dynamic quarterback leading his team.
This brings us back to Darnold. On one hand, the former USC star should provide a noticeable upgrade over the journeyman Bridgewater. On the other, we already have a fair sample size of Darnold and Anderson working together.
The results were less than spectacular. The former top rookie QB averaged a meager 2,600 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions per season. He also recorded a 13-25 record during that span.
Should fans of the Jets and Panthers both expect more of the same in 2021? Possibly. However, there are legitimate reasons why the two could form a formidable tandem in their new home.
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For starters, the Panthers offer a much more stable coaching staff than either had in New York. While the Darnold-era Jets featured a carousel of poor leaders, the Panthers have an encouraging, offensive-minded, staff led by Rhule and Brady.
Both had solid success with Bridgewater despite suffering a plethora of injuries to the overall roster. Clearly, the franchise believes they can achieve greater heights with a signal-caller with a higher pedigree.
Additionally, Darnold and Anderson should be a part of the most talented offense of their careers. They will join a top-tier rusher in Christian McCaffrey, as well as an established playmaker in D.J. Moore. The team may also look to add talent at wide receiver, tight end, or offensive line via the draft.
This should provide Darnold with a tremendous opportunity for growth. Anderson will also face far less attention than he ever did in New York.
The thought of Darnold and Anderson leading another franchise to the postseason is a nightmare for most Jets fans.
To be clear, I believe the Jets made a wise decision moving on from their former QB. I am also of the opinion that the package they received was a solid return.
However, Jets fans have good reason to keep one eye on their former offensive cornerstones as they attempt to resurrect their careers in Carolina.
While we wish them both the best, there is a small (and in some cases, a large) part of most faithful Jets fans that hope the duo doesn’t further spurn the organization by breaking out in their new home.