Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson can't wait to be reunited with Sam Darnold. The receiver spoke highly of the newly-acquired Darnold on Tuesday, saying he sees Darnold improving now that he's away from the New York Jets.
Anderson would know. After spending his first four years with the Jets, Anderson joined the Panthers last season and put up a career-best 1,096 receiving yards and 95 catches. Anderson was previously used as a deep threat, but expanded his skills with the Panthers.
He sees similar improvement from Darnold. Why? Because the Jets weren't the best place for Darnold to develop, Anderson told NFL Network.
"Me personally speaking, I just think Sam kinda, his development was not correct with the Jets," he said. "I think he didn't have the best supporting cast around him, the best coaching to get him to his full potential."
Anderson took a swipe at himself when mentioning Darnold's supporting cast in New York. Anderson and Darnold played together for three seasons with the Jets. Over that period, Anderson caught 11 touchdown passes from Darnold, the most of any receiver in Darnold's young career.
Anderson feels confident the two can get back to that in 2021, saying he and Darnold have "very good chemistry."
Jets coaching hurt Sam Darnold
The big question Panthers fans have to ask themselves is whether Darnold can recapture the potential that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. The fact that he's leaving Adam Gase offers hope it's possible.
Multiple offensive skill position players have flourished after leaving Gase's offense. Ryan Tannehill turned into a Pro Bowler with the Tennessee Titans, DeVante Parker put up 1,202 receiving yards the year after Gase left the Miami Dolphins and Kenyan Drake has had his best two seasons in the NFL after getting away from Gase.
That was a popular narrative before the Darnold trade and Anderson's comments further amplify that notion. If Anderson — who experienced Gase's regime in New York — says the coaches couldn't get Darnold to reach his potential, that gives the narrative more weight.
None of this is to say Darnold will become an All-Pro in Year 1, but it gives Panthers fans some hope better things are coming from Darnold. If Darnold can improve, that could go a huge way toward the Panthers getting back to contention.
Between the change of scenery and getting Anderson back, there are at least two signs things will be better for Darnold in 2021.
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