Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers Week 16 Game Overview, Game and Stream Details, Key Players, Top Scenarios, Injury Updates
ADDITIONAL CHANGES IN 2021
• While “keeping the squad” together on the pitch for a race at another championship, the Buccaneers also managed to keep their coaching staff almost fully intact for 2021. The only start was offensive assistant Antwaan Randle El, who left to coach receivers on Dan Campbell’s team in Detroit. There were two additions to Arians’ staff: offensive assistant AQ Shipley and assistant wide receivers coach Thaddeus Lewis.
• Mike Greenberg, who has been invaluable to Jason Licht in his efforts to maintain the Super Bowl-winning Bucs’ lineup as the team’s director of football administration, was promoted during the offseason to post of vice-president of football administration. Greenberg is entering his 12th year with the team.
• After playing their 2020 home schedule in front of an audience ranging from empty stands to around 25% capacity, the Buccaneers will be at full capacity at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. And we mean full capacity. The defending champions have already sold all home games this season; The last time every game at Raymond James Stadium was sold out was in 2009.
• The Buccaneers introduced new uniforms in 2020 that were heavily influenced by the look the team had in their first Super Bowl era, but also included an all-new alternate set with matching pewter jerseys and pants. This gave the team four combinations last season: pewter on pewter, white on white, white on pewter and red on pewter. The Bucs will wear a fifth combination in 2021, with a red jersey over white pants, which they will wear in the spotlight of Sunday Night Football at home against the Saints in Week 15.
• Veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown isn’t a new addition to the squad in 2021, but he will have a chance to make a bigger impact this season. Brown joined the Buccaneers mid-season last year and has played the last eight games of the regular season, recording 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns. He also appeared in three playoff competitions and scored a memorable touchdown in Super Bowl LV. This time, Brown will be an integral part of the offense from day one and he’ll move more freely after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. From 2013 to 2018, Brown averaged about 114 catches for 1,524 yards and 13 touchdowns per season.
· The Panthers kicked off the new year by hiring a new GM, with Scott Fitterer securing the job after a lengthy search that included 15 candidates. Fitterer, who spent 20 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and most recently was the team’s vice president of football operations, replaced Marty Hurney, who was fired last December. The Panthers have also hired Dan Morgan, previously director of player personnel for the 2018-20 Buffalo Bills, to be the assistant general manager. Morgan had previously worked with Fitterer in Seattle.
Carolina didn’t make any drastic changes to Matt Rhule’s coaching staff during the offseason, but made a big change earlier this month. During their week off, the Panthers parted ways with offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who left LSU to join Rhule, Carolina in 2020. Rhule then handed the coordinator and appeal duties to Jeff Nixon, who had been the main offensive assistant and running back coach. Nixon previously called parts under Rhule at Baylor from 2017 to 2019.
The Panthers got a new quarterbacks coach in 2021 after Jeff Peetz left to be LSU’s offensive coordinator. Carolina brought in Sean Ryan, who had held the same position for the Texans in 2017-18 and Lions in 2019-20. Carolina also added two sons of former NFL head coaches to the staff, with Tony Sparano, Jr. entering as an assistant offensive line coach and Kevin M. Gilbride joining the staff as a defensive analyst. . In addition, Frank Okam was promoted to assistant defensive line coach to defensive line coach, replacing Mike Phair.
· Since the Buccaneers last saw the Panthers, Carolina has made not one, but two very spectacular moves at quarterback. In April, the Panthers traded to Sam Darnold, sending a sixth-round pick in 2021 and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 to the Jets for the former third-overall pick in 2018. Carolina then dispatched her own 2020 starter Teddy Bridgewater in Denver in a separate agreement. Darnold started the first nine games before landing on the injured list with a shoulder injury. Shortly after this development, the Panthers decided to go back by signing their former franchise superstar, Cam Newton. Newton had spent the 2020 season in New England after being released from the Panthers but had not played in 2021 after losing a competition for the Patriots starting position to rookie Mac Jones. Newton has started the Panthers’ last four games, all losses. Darnold recently returned to training and could potentially be activated this week.
The Panthers also had to turn to Plan B in the backfield after injuries wiped out most of Christian McCaffrey’s season for the second year in a row. McCaffrey missed time early with a hamstring injury and appeared in just seven games before an ankle injury stopped him for the remainder of 2021. Fourth-round rookie Chuba Hubbard has reprized the lead role in the racing game and the team also signed Ameer Abdullah in October after being let go by the Vikings.