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Ken Medlin

Panthers getting back to their roots

Posted July 27, 2013

It was like a walk back in time.

After a couple of years of running a spread offense, it now seems the Panthers are going back to their roots. "Traditional running game" was a phrase repeated often around Spartanburg as the Panthers opened camp.

Cam Newton led the team in rushing last season. And while Newton is an electrifying ball carrier, quarterbacks generally don't lead their teams' ground games for a reason - they take too many hits in the process.

The read-option isn't likely to go away - NFL teams have found it to be quite the offensive weapon, and Newton runs it as well as anyone. But the Panthers were better last year when they got DeAngelo Williams involved in the offense. His resurgence last season just happened to coincide with the Panthers' 5-1 finish.

Moreover, the Panthers have been (historically speaking) a team designed to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. They were modeled after the Pittsburgh Steelers of the '70's, a Southern version of a cold-weather football team - and it does get pretty chilly in Charlotte every December.

And that's interesting when you consider that while the Panthers' offensive focus has shifted to getting their running backs better involved, the team just happened to use its first two draft picks on interior defensive linemen Star Lotuleilei and Kawann Short.

Run the ball. Stop the run.

Those are familiar sentences for Panthers fans - words which bring back memories of the deep playoff runs in 1996, 2003 and 2005. Make no mistake, they're not going to a smash-mouth style - not with Newton at quarterback, it would be a waste of his versatility. But DeAngelo Williams is too good to waste away on the bench. Utilizing both stars could go a long way towards putting this team back in the playoffs.

And that's long overdue.

12 Comments

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  • VT1994Hokie Jul 28, 2013

    Not any NFL nor college teams can win when the QB is the leading rusher. I'm glad that the coaching staff finally made this decision. Run first...pass second. Most solid teams win with this formula.

  • StunGunn Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    They were debating that yesterday on the radio. One thought process was if A-Rod fights the charges, MLB may postpone, and if that's the case, he could be back in pinstripes in August! The Yank-mees owe him so much money, they'd HAVE to let him play. If A-Rod doesn't fight, he's probably toast. I remember years ago when he tearfully admitted to taking PED's. Thought he might be clean after that, but it doesn't seem to be the case. I find it hard to want to cut someone slack who does the mea culpa and then goes right back to the illegal substances.

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    I agree with this one.

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 28, 2013

    Looking forward to seeing the Panthers win games early this season. It sounds like they have been planning during the off season. No more 1-5 and 1-6 starts.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    I was thinking of A-Roid when I posted that. If the legal stuff goes according to plan, I think A-Roid has played his last game.

  • StunGunn Jul 28, 2013

    DUKE

    View quoted thread


    Oh, yeah - #89 has a lot of mileage on his wheels, but he's still a good target for Cam, and if it weren't for Cam, Smitty would most likely be wearing the uniform of a different team these past few years.

  • StunGunn Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    As soon as I read you comment about long contracts, I thought about baseball and I heard just yesterday that A-Rod has a contract worth a Hundred-Million-Dollars and he turned 38!!! How crazy is that???? The only "A-Bomb From A-Rod" will be the one from MLB where he's suspended long enough he won't be able to come back for the Yank-mees.

  • DUKE4EVER Jul 28, 2013

    Uhmmmmm.....there's this guy Smith, Steve Smith or something like that. Getting the ball to him is probably a good thought as well.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    True. They were a good tandem a few years ago. Given the Panthers recent struggles, I would like to see 'em give it to the guy with the best numbers & see what happens. At least they know they have a capable #2 should the starter go down. Chemistry is everything in sports & most players like to know where they stand, what their role is, etc. I'm just a firm believer in putting your best unit on the field...no committee/platoon stuff, & roll with it.

    In the pro ranks, they should go with shorter contracts, maybe 2 to 3 year deals across the board. Bet that would keep players motivated to play well more often. Also bet the players/union wouldn't like that either. Remember Haynesworth with the 'Skins? What a waste! Some of the deals in baseball are absurd (Ex. 10 year deals - hilarious)

  • StunGunn Jul 28, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Agree, BB5, and I'm glad to see them return to what used to be their bread butter: the running game. Williams and Stewart were a terrific tandem a few years ago - they had names like "Shake and Bake", and "Double Trouble". Hope Stewart can get healthy fast, but DeAngelo Williams was one of the reasons the Panthers put together a string of wins at the end of last season.

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