In a league exploding with complex passing schemes and precisely timed rhythm offenses, the Carolina Panthers are succeeding the old school way. Being gifted with insane wealth at the running back position gives Carolina the luxury of always having a sustainable run game, one they can rely on regardless of injuries, which have happened quite frequently with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in recent years.
With their ridiculous stable of running backs, include short yardage monsters Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton, the Panthers can run it frequently and compensate for a lack of playmakers at wide receiver, not mention keeping their vaunted defense brooding and ready on the bench.
Carolina’s offense has been able to get by so far, supplemented by the third-down magic of Cam Newton and Ron Rivera‘s willingness to go for it on fourth down, but they got exposed against the New Orleans Saints and Rob Ryan‘s athletic defense.
Aging and hampered with injuries, the Panthers offensive line is a serious issue, and they got owned by Cameron Jordan and Junior Gallette on Sunday. Regardless of what scheme or system the Panthers run, none of it will work if the offensive line can’t get a push up front and open up lanes for the backs or keep Cam Newton from having to run for his life.
The NFC South is seemingly out of reach after the New Orleans loss, but the offensive line needs to find a way to come together and pull it out for the rest of the season if they want to hold on to the No. 5 seed and have any success in the playoffs.
It doesn’t help that they face the New York Jets, who sport arguably the best defensive line in football with Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and the sensational rookie Sheldon Richardson.
The Panthers defense clearly has what it takes to shut down turnover-prone Geno Smith, but the Panthers aren’t going to be scoring much either if they can’t keep Wilkerson and Richardson out of the backfield.
Carolina may be able to survive with Chris Scott returning from injury and the defense getting Charles Johnson and Chase Blackburn back, but for right now their line needs to step up if the plan to make this season memorable.