Many avid and even fair-weather fans of the Carolina Panthers have taken notice of one play the Panthers run on offense that might actually be hindering their running attack.
That one play being the option handoff out of the shotgun formation, more formally known as a draw play. Well, at least that’s what it looks like the Panthers are trying to perform.
Carolina runs it frequently and almost always executes the play poorly; clearly seeming to be a detriment for both running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Pre-snap, quarterback Cam Newton stands in the shotgun with either Williams or Stewart at his side. The football is snapped to Newton, who then waits for what feels like a full second before deliberately handing the football off to the running back.
By the time the handoff is made, the opposing defense knows the play is a run and more than likely already has one or two defenders in the back field. If the opposing defense hasn’t penetrated the backfield when the football is handed-off, then they most certainly pick-up the running back at the line of scrimmage.
Carolina’s extra delay to the actual handoff gives the running back little opportunity to gain yards.
It’s become an obvious play that is being both performed poorly by Newton and implemented in the offense on horrible down and distance situations by Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
The Panthers currently rank 16th in the NFL in total rushing offense with 682 total yards on the ground. Not too bad, but when your quarterback leads the team in rushing yards with 273, something is wrong, even with a player as gifted as Newton at the position. Especially considering the Panthers have two highly paid and dynamic running backs like Stewart and Williams on the roster, not to mention flex back Mike Tolbert as a third option and red zone threat.
Now, one play can’t be killing the run game altogether, though the way Carolina executes the draw play doesn’t allow for the running back to gain any downfield momentum.
The draw play works in football and it should be working for the Panthers. However, poor execution of the play and its un-timely call should lead Panthers head coach Ron Rivera to scrap it from the offense until run properly.
This week, the Panthers should get back to running the ball straight-up and perhaps attack more with the triple option handoff rather than their doomed draw/option handoff. These are simple adjustments to the game plan, which will allow for Stewart and Williams to go to work on the ground this Sunday.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1.