Derek Anderson is playing remarkable football, especially when you remember he's not yet started an entire season's worth of football games in his entire career. At just 24 years of age, Anderson has made the most out of his first extended opportunity to prove himself.
Last year, Anderson appeared in 5 games, starting 3 of them. Like most inexperienced young QBs, especially those playing behind shaky offensive lines, Anderson struggled last year, throwing 8 picks in just 117 pass attempts. He also fumbled twice and only completed around 56% of his passes.
Perhaps that's why Romeo Crennel incorrectly went with Charlie Frye to start the 2007 season. But when Frye was benched in the fist half of our Week 1 game against Cleveland, Anderson jumped in and hasn't looked back. He didn't fare much better than Frye that day against the Steelers, but the following week, Anderson lit up the Bengals to the tune of 328 yards and 5 TDs.
Anderson has thrown at least 1 TD pass in every game except last week, when Jamal Lewis had 4 short TD runs. Ironically, it was one of Anderson's better games of the year, as he completed 29 of 48 passes for 364 yards in a come-from-behind victory over the Seahawks.
Anderson looked most shaky in a narrow loss to the Raiders - a game they should have won, which would have given them a more comfortable cushion at 6-2 then at their current record of 5-3. Anderson completed under 50% of his passes that day, and was picked off twice. Bellicheck also confused the young quarterback in Week 5, but that's to be expected.
Anderson is 4th in the NFL with 17 TD passes
So where did this Anderson guy come from? Unless you're from the West Coast, you probably don't remember too much of him from his playing days at Oregon State. Chad Johnson and TJ Housh had just left Corvalis when Anderson arrived on campus, but that didn't mean he didn't get to sling it plenty in college. Anderson threw 78 TD passes in his final three years at Oregon State. Curious whether he's always been prone to the INT? Yeah, he has. 54 picks in his three years as a starter. And 9 so far this year in just 8 full games.
Part of Anderson's problem is his willingness to believe he can make every throw. Similar to Big Ben, Anderson sometimes holds onto the ball to long. He's big and rangy at 6'6", and sees down the field well, especially over the middle where he can find his athletic tight end Kellen Winslow. Anderson has decent feet, but he's no threat to run really. I'd expect LeBeau to come after Anderson and force him to make quicker decisions than he's accustomed to and comfortable making.