Will Cam Newtown help or hinder the Panthers?
Cam Newton is becoming predictable and it could be argued selfish. Making the most of his athleticism, Newton puts up excellent numbers, but this may be to the detriment of his teammates.
Gifted with speed, size and accuracy, Newton is a threat both on the ground and in the air, but there’s a problem which plagued him throughout college; he does too much.
In his rookie season he posted 4,051 yards in the air for 21 touchdowns and also rushed another 706 yards for 14 touchdowns, breaking the all-time record for most touchdowns rushed by a quarterback in a season.
Since Newton’s arrival, DeAngelo William’s role in the Panther’s offence has diminished significantly from a speedy runner to a blocking back.
In 2008 Williams rushed 1,515 yards for 18 touchdowns on 273 carries.
In 2009 Williams rushed 1,117 yards for seven touchdowns on 216 carries.
The Carolina Panthers are in a unique situation with one of the best back up running backs in the league who takes a significant number of carries per game. Jonathon Stewart, more of a power runner, is used to wear down defences and gain short yardage.
In 2008 Stewart rushed 836 yards for 10 touchdowns on 184 carries.
In 2009 Stewart rushed 1,133 yards for 10 touchdowns on 221 carries.
The Panthers 0-16 record in 2010 makes their offensive statistics irrelevant for that season.
Last season Williams rushed for 836 yards from 155 carries for seven touchdowns, while Stewart rushed for 761 yards from 142 carries for four touchdowns.
The biggest distress for Williams and Stewart is their decline in scoring plays. With Newton taking the snaps, teams have come to expect him to run the ball when inside the five yard line.
So far in four games this season, Newton has rushed for 167 yards for three touchdowns. Those rushing touchdowns have come from the five, one and four-yard lines.
In week four against Atlanta, Newton had the Panthers in front late in the final quarter when he found himself in a third and two situation.
Two yard would have won the game. He ran two yards before fumbling the ball. They play was challenged and he was deemed to be short of the first down. On fourth and inches, he ran again for two yards before fumbling the ball again.
It was recovered one-yard short of the first down and the Panthers opted to punt with 1.44 left on the game clock and a one point lead.
Quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons 77 yards before kicker Matt Bryant kicked the game winning field goal.
Newton is an agile quarterback who will run when the play breaks down in front of him. But Carolina’s decision to call him into running plays shows a lack of faith in the team’s running backs.
With two crucial fumbles in the dying stages of the Atlanta game, the short and simple of it is he lost the game for them.
When Williams and Stewart are instrumental in moving the chains forward but denied the opportunity to run scores in the red zone, it can negatively affect team dynamics.
Beyond increasing the chances of Newton injuring himself, the plays are predictable. In short yardage situations, it’s obvious he’s going to run it himself.
His aerial dives have excited fans since his debut but down the track, injuries will catch up to him. For his running backs to keep the confidence required to excel in this league, they need coaches and a quarterback that have faith in them to gain short yardage.
There’d be few things worse than an injured quarterback when backs are running without confidence.