The Buccaneers will wish that they were playing Sam Darnold rather than Cam Newton this season.
The Buccaneers are obviously still the favorites against the Panthers in both upcoming matchups. It’ll take much more to make that unit formidable against the Bucs, but Cam Newton does certainly help.
The NFC South has become slightly harder for the Buccaneers to win, but that doesn’t mean it will be hard to win. Newton moves the needle slightly for the Panthers, but that has far more to do with how bad Sam Darnold has been this season.
After a fast start, Darnold has quickly become one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. The turnovers have been plenty, the offense stagnates in the worst moments, and the Panthers clearly wasted several draft picks on adding a quarterback that is obviously not the future.
While some fans may point to the final years of Newton in Carolina or last season in New England, even those bad performances are an improvement over what the Bucs would’ve faced in Darnold.
Had he been healthy, the Buccaneer defense would much rather face a quarterback like Darnold rather than Newton, even though they have the talent to shut down either with ease.
Regardless of the quarterback, there are plenty of weapons in Carolina for the Bucs to plan against when the matchup comes up. There is a great wide receiver duo, one of the best running backs in the NFL when healthy, and a sneaky-good defense. A quarterback that can put points on the board without the turnovers that has chemistry is the one missing piece, and Newton could bring that with him in his return after posting 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season.
The Buccaneers won’t lose any sleep over a move like this for a mediocre team, but Newton does still improve the outlook for that roster in 2021.
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