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.