Carolina Panthers: The Resurrection of Ryan Kalil
Even if Ryan Kalil‘s famed 2012 Super Bowl prediction did come true, he would have never seen the field in that game. Kalil was lost for the season last year in Week 6 to a Lisfranc injury, and the offense was never the same after that. Not that the team was doing too well at the time, but a team can always be better when equipped with one of the best centers in the league. The Carolina Panthers could have especially used him down the stretch to help close out games with the running game instead of leaving it up to the defense, and we all know how that turned out.
Carolina changed its offensive coordinator over the offseason, and the offensive mindset of the team shifted as a consequence. Rob Chudzinski‘s scheme was all about exploiting the talents of Cam Newton, which ultimately put too much pressure on Newton and left him exposed for the wave of criticism that followed. Mike Shula‘s new scheme, as in the one he unveiled against the New York Giants, is a bit more team-oriented. His new scheme also tries to utilize the many talents of Cam Newton, but it also places heavy emphasis on the traditional, I-formation power run game. This approach helps distribute the spotlight and the pressure away from Newton instead of concentrating it, allowing other players to shine.
Kalil has shined very brightly in Shula’s scheme, nearly becoming the center of attention (pun intended). The focus on the power run game allows Kalil to become the focal point of the offense, because whether he wins or loses at the line of scrimmage can determine whether a play becomes a thirteen-yard run or a three-yard loss. Every offensive lineman loves the run game, trading away the finesse and technique of the passing game for mauling physicality. Only time will tell how brightly Kalil win shine this season or whether his prediction will apply to this year, but Mike Shula has put him the position to succeed.