The Carolina Panthers have finally found success in third year of the Ron Rivera/ Cam Newton era after floundering in their first two seasons, winning four of their last five en route to a 4-3 record and the second place spot in the division. How have they done it so far, turning around this once vulnerable team? Obviously the defense has been stellar all year, but the offense was subpar in the first two weeks, failing to generate touchdowns due to an overly conservative offense.
Mike Shula opened up the playbook some, which has led to higher production from the offense, but he still runs a fairly conservative scheme. The Panthers offense is heavily dependent on the run and short passing game, getting good yards on the ground on first down setting up manageable second and third downs. The Panthers are also dominating teams in time of possession on the backs of DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton, grinding out long drives instead of adhering to the new fad of high-tempo offenses that has taken hold of the NFL.
DeAngelo Williams has been instrumental to the offensive success of the Panthers, and the rhythm of the offense follows the beat of his footsteps. He hasn’t put up quite as good of numbers the last few weeks, though, after being near the top of the league in the first few weeks, and he really needs a good game against the Falcons to get back on track. With Jonathan Stewart coming back from injury, Williams needs to get as many yards as he can while he can to make sure he continues to get the carries he deserves, instead of his touches being delegated to other players. Carolina can beat Atlanta, but only if Williams plays well.